Posts Tagged: soil
Many states have a designated state bird, flower, fossil, mineral, etc. In California, the state bird is the California Valley Quail, the state flower is the Golden Poppy, the state fossil is the Sabertoothed Cat, and the state mineral is Native Gold. The state rock is Serpentine which contains chrysolite asbestos which is a carcinogen. It's a beautiful rock, though.
The state soil is the San Joaquin series. The series concept is that a given soil has certain properties like pH, depth, color, texture, etc. that distinguishes it from other “soils” or series. So wherever this soil is found it is given the same name. San Joaquin series is a soil that is found primarily along the foothills of the Sierras in the Central Valley. The name comes from where it is first described, in this case, San Joaquin, but it is found in other places. Yolo series is named after a soil on the campus at UC Davis in Yolo county, but it is also found in San Diego county, and in other states.
A description of the state soil can be found at the link below, as well as the state soils in other states:
Soils can be highly variable depending on the context in which they are found. Going to flat old Kansas which is actually flatter than a pancake (http://www.usu.edu/geo/geomorph/kansas.html), the variability from spot to spot across miles can be minimal. But going to a place like Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo Counties of the Sierra foothills, you can't step on the same soil twice. That's because of the terrain and landforms. Where there is natural erosion (yes, it doesn't take humans to cause erosion) or accelerated erosion (this is where humans have often changed the landscape with roads, houses, removing ground cover) soil gets moved around and deposited in different positions and over time forms different soils with different properties. On large tracts of land that have not been altered much, such as avocado orchards, the naturally formed soils can be seen. In a housing tract where soil has been moved around to level and compact housing pads, it is often hard to find a natural soil because it is so highly disturbed. The soil can have been moved from one end of a 100 acres tract to the other with big equipment. It's all one big homogenous mix down to several feet at times depending on the slope.
In many cases, it is still possible to see the natural soils and knowing their series classification, it's possible to learn some of the properties and some of the problems that will be encountered when working with them. Knowing the pH prior to working it means that it could be adjusted before planting. It's a whole lot easier to adjust before planting than when the plants are in the ground.
You can see the soils in your area by going to the USDA-NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) website - https://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov/App/HomePage.htm - and typing in the area code to find the soil at a given site. It probably isn't the state soil series, but it's your soil series.
For a great text on understanding soils, check out Soils: An Introduction by Michael Singer and Don Munns.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has included $7.5 million in the 2017-18 budget to launch the Healthy Soils Initiative, reported Bob Gore in a commentary on Techwire.net.
The story said CDFA secretary Karen Ross announced the development at a recent meeting, saying "We're starting from the ground up."
Carlos Suarez of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service was also quoted in Gore's story. Suarez said the funding puts "soils back into the forefront of agriculture. Feeding the people is the real issue. We have to take care of our soils."
Jenny Lester Moffitt, CDFA deputy secretary and walnut farmer, is the point person for the Governor's Healthy Soils Initiative, which formally starts Jan. 19. Moffitt said the $7.5 million will fund research and demonstration projects so the "UC Ag and Natural Resources engine will rev up."
California's Healthy Soils Action Plan notes that the new initiative will "provide boots-on-the-ground" research, education and technical support to the agricultural industry.
"Utilizing partners such as Natural Resource Conservation Services, University of California Cooperative Extension and Resource Conservation Districts, (the initiative will) enhance and expand technical assistance and outreach activities to distribute new and existing management practice information to farmers and ranchers," the action plan says on Page 5.
A recent website just posted hopes to make research papers available to the general public. Many times these papers are locked away in archives or libraries and are hard to access. This website wants to change that. It is sponsored by various group0s, including USDA, University of Missouri, industry, Resource Conservative Districts and other entitites. It's a small data base at this point, but hopes to build over time. check it out:
There's a lot of distracting stuff at the site, but the guts are at
Other good ag websites are the USDA's National Ag Library:
USDA's ATTRA which is loaded with basic and detailed farming information:
USDA's Farming Information Center
It's a new year, READ ON!!!!
From the UC Weed Science Blog
A repost and link today to a recent Weed Science Society of America press release entitled: "About Weed Seeds and Their Longevity" Click the link to go to the full article.
An excerpt from the press release and links to the free download:
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout when conditions are right? A new factsheet available for free download from the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) dives into the topic of weed seed longevity, as well as how weed seeds travel, when and why they germinate, and ways they can be eliminated.
“Understanding weed seeds and their lifespan is critical for both farmers and backyard gardeners alike,” says WSSA member Greta Gramig, Ph.D., associate professor of weed science at North Dakota State University. “Seeds can remain viable in the soil for extended periods of time. That means if even a single weed is allowed to go to seed, you may be battling the aftermath for years to come.”
Here are just a few of the many facts about weed seeds that are covered in the new WSSA fact sheet:
- Moth mullein seeds buried by a researcher in 1879 were still able to germinate more than 130 years later.
- Weed seeds can easily be spread and transported far from their original location. Some have found their way into the earth's planetary boundary.
- Earthworms are known to collect weed seeds and move them into their burrows.
- Weed seeds that remain dormant in the soil will often germinate in response to changes in temperature, moisture, oxygen or light.
- Carabid beetles are voracious eaters and can consume large quantities of weed seeds that drop to the soil.
In addition to its fact sheet on weed seeds, WSSA offers a variety of other free fact sheets and educational materials online, including infographics and presentations on herbicide resistant weeds and their management./span>
Improved soil promises to help farmers use less water and reduce carbon in the atmosphere, reported Ezra David Romero on Valley Edition, a one-hour weekly program that airs on KVPR-FM.
The five-minute story, which begins at the 30:30 mark, focuses on CDFA's new Healthy Soils Initiative. The program is expected to allocate $7.5 million for farmer incentives to use practices that will improve soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These are practices that are already in place on some innovative valley farmers, including two that are active in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation center.
Jesse Sanchez, manager at Sano Farms in Firebaugh, said 15 years ago, tractors were rolling across the 4,000-acre tomato farm all the time. Now, the farm features cover crops in the winter, reduced soil tillage, irrigation with super-efficient buried drip tape and lower fertilizer needs. The result is a one-third drop in water use and a 75 percent reduction in diesel to fuel tractors, Romero said.
Many of the farm's tractors have been sold. "We don't want to see them no more," Sanchez said.
Retired Madera County farmer Tom Willey discussed the critical importance of soil care he learned as a long-time organic vegetable grower.
"It's the survival of our species," Willey said. "The soil is the thin skin of the earth that we all exist on. Our lives are bound up in the health and productivity of the soil."
UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jeff Mitchell noted the challenges that farmers face in making soil care changes. “A real part of the challenge for California farms is the high-value nature of the production systems, the crops themselves, and some difficult challenges in terms of the diversity of the crops," he said.