The existing soil fertility can vary significantly from plot to plot even if they are in close proximity. Hence, the best practice to insure good results is to collect a soil sample and have it analyzed by a quality lab (www.Watersag.com). This simple step is often the difference between success and failure! I collect soil samples from every plot (even hidey hole plots) annually. Unless there’s a major land use or flooding event the available soil nutrients won’t change much throughout the year (except for nitrogen which is very volatile).
At my place I’ve been using no-till and cover crops so long that the soil quality has significantly improved. By planting Eagle Seed’s forage soybeans and overseeding with Broadside there’s a crop mining or recycling nutrients everyday the growing conditions are favorable. This prevents most nutrients from leaching too deep for the next crop’s roots to obtain. In addition, the biomass produced is allowed to slowly decompose on top the soil. This serves as a slow release fertilizer to continue feeding new crops, prevents moisture loss through evaporation, and soil loss through wind and water erosion.
When I purchased The Proving Grounds the soil was very poor due to years of poor management. I added Antler Dirt (www.AntlerDirt.com) and increased the soil nutrients and organic matter. By using only no-till (I don’t own a disk) and always using cover crops (Broadside) I rarely have to add any nutrients. In fact I haven’t added any form of fertilizer in two years to most of my plots (only to the newest plots!).
The long-lived Eagle Seed forage soybeans and the amount of organic matter produced by the rotting vegetation provide more than enough nitrogen for the Broadside (and most crops). In fact, soil test results from my plots show an average of 90 pounds per acre of E.N.R. (estimated nitrogen release).
I hope this helps! I explain and show my techniques in detail during our annual Field Events. They are tentatively scheduled for April 1st and 2nd and August 12th and 13th, 2016. There will be more information about these event soon at http://www.GrowingDeer.com.
December 20, 2015