Crops and Soils

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The 2015 Forage Trials Report summarizes performance data collected from ongoing forage trials at two sites in Pennsylvania. The report includes data from alfalfa and cool-season (forage) grass trials established at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs and/or the Southeast Research and Extension Center at Landisville.

This new guide provides strategies and herbicide tables for managing weeds in corn, sorghum, soybeans, small grains, legumes, grass forages, and pastures.

The focus of nutrient management is rapidly evolving from optimizing agronomic production and economic returns of crop production to balancing farm production with environmental protection.

Nutrient management has taken on new meaning in recent times. Soil fertility traditionally dealt with supplying and managing nutrients to meet crop production requirements.

Effective nutrient management requires decisions to be made at several different levels of detail: strategic, tactical, and operational (Figure 1).

Almost all decision-making in agriculture, in the boardrooms of industry or on the tractor seats of farms, affects the distribution of materials such as crops and manure within farms, and the movement of materials such as feeds and farm products to and from farms.

Managing weeds in reduced-tillage systems requires a planned approach. Through planning, successful conservation tillage producers anticipate potential problems, find timely solutions, and make use of integrated pest management techniques (IPM), such as field scouting and crop rotation, to find alternative pest management strategies. Flexibility and foresight also aid in success.

The increasing size of farm quipment may cause significant soil compaction that can negatively affect soil productivity as well as environmental quality. Learn ways to avoid soil compaction.

Figure 1. Birdsfoot trefoil.

Birdsfoot trefoil is a perennial that adapts well to production on poorly drained, low-pH soils.

Grain/seed drills are important tools for establishment of grain and forage crops as well as cover crops. The seed delivery system in drills is not as precise as that used in planters because they use flutes or sponges to meter seed instead of seed singulation.

Camelina (Camelina sativa L.) was first cultivated in northern Europe during the Bronze Age.

Learn the advantages and disadvantages of double-cropping corn following hay and to provide some recommendations for improving the success rate of the practice.

Corn harvested for silage is an important feed crop on most Pennsylvania farms, where cropland often is limited.

Producers seed cover crops to provide a soil cover or barrier against soil erosion. In addition, cover crops can improve the soil by adding organic matter, nutrients, and stability and by acting as scavengers to trap leftover nutrients that otherwise might leach out.

Crop rotations can benefit dairy farms in many ways. An effective crop rotation meets the feed needs of the operation, improves crop yields, reduces pest problems, and effectively uses on-farm nutrients.

Crop rotations increase crop yields by improving soil conditions and reducing weed and insect populations. Rotations also help producers use conservation tillage successfully.

This article explains how to determine pasture yield using direct methods (hand clipping) and indirect methods (pasture ruler and rising plate meter). Detailed equations are also provided for calculating the indirect methods.

A diagnostic tool to measure the extent and depth of subsurface compaction is a penetrometer, or soil compaction tester.

The burrowing and feeding activity of earthworms have numerous beneficial effects on overall soil quality for crop production.

Soil compaction is the reduction of soil volume due to external factors; this reduction lowers soil productivity and environmental quality.