Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, December 13, 1975, Image 20

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    Farming. Saturrfay. 0ac.13,197S
WILLOW STREET Few farmers can accurately see the relationship between
soil tillage and soil fertility, but relationships do exist tillage and fertility affect
each other says Robert Boehle of Brookside Farms Laboratory Association.
The plow is obsolete, according to Boehle and the organization he represents.
Representing a firm which works in 23 states, Mexico
and Canada, Boehle was in southeastern Pennsylvania
last month to conduct a scries of meetings on soil
management Brookside Farms, which provides only a
service, rather than sell products, prides itself on being a
research organization which uses the individual farm in
its scientific work, the results of which can be appbed
directly to that farm.
Using a senes of slides depicting various soil conditions
and stages of crop development, Boehle pointed out a
number of things which can directly affect soil produc
tivity, erosion, moisture content, fertility, and the in
terrelationships between biological, physical and
chemical soil properties.
All crops need (1) fertility, (2) water, and (3) air within
the sod, Boehle began. ‘“Hie soil is alive, it’s a natural
living system and the processes going on within it can
affect the business of crop production,” he emphasized.
John Campbell, who also works with the firm as a con
sultant in this area, commented later that “if you work
properly with the soil it will take care of you, but if you
abuse it, it’ll clobber you.”
The three soil properties (biological, physical, and
chemical) are all interrelated you can’t work with one
without affecting the other, Boehle stressed. He noted that
chemical properties are the ones farmers are most
familiar with, but the least important in crop production.
“We must learn more,” he said.
The availability of air and water is one of the more
important considerations in soil management To
illustrate this point Boehle showed pictures of a field of
com which appeared to be lacking Nitrogen. He pointed
oat that the situation came about after a heavy rain which
left fields soaked. Warm weather then dried out the field
and left it with a hard crust on top. To correct the
situation, the farmer applied Nitrogen by cutting it
directly into the soil. “The change in color you see here,”
Boehle said as the next slide appeared on the screen, “is
not due to the applied Nitrogen, but because the soil’s
crust was broken by the N applicators. The N had little to
do with it the change in color is due to an exchange of
Oxygen and carbon dioxide within the soil which was
previously restricted because of the crust.”
Another practice recommended by Brookside Farms is
By Dieter Krieg
No-tUlage practices cause the soil to become hard and disease prone. Nothing is returned
“The soil is alive ,
if s a natural living system and
the processes going on within it can
affect the business of crop production.
If you work with it properly
it’ll take care of you, if you abuse it.
it’ll clobber you.”
chisel-plowing. The rather simple explanation is that after
years and years of plowing, the ordinary plow forms what
is known as a “plow sole” that is the tightly compacted
layer of soil on which the plow’s bottoms are dragged
along. This “plow sole” severely restricts the movement
of air and water within the soil and also hinders deep root
Using facts and figures gathered by Brookside Farms
as well as data from several universities, Boehle showed
graphically bow water moves within the soil. “The par
ticle size of soil affects the movement of air and water,
hence a compacted layer will restrict movement,” he
said. The slides showed bow water penetration actually
came to a halt once the soil was no longer worked up
properly. Likewise, other slides showed instances of how
roots touched the “plow sole,” attempted to penetrate,
and finally just curled away in another direction.
Chisel-plowing breaks up the compacted layer and
allows water and air to penetrate and move more freely,
the Brookside Farms employee clarified. “The water goes
down deeper, and can be stored it improves drought
resistance and leaves fields less prone to erosion,” he
pointed out.
Explaining chisel-plowing in more detail, Boehle said a
penetration of one-half to three inches below the plow sole
is sufficient and there is no known advantage to going
deeper than that A wide-spacing of no less than 24 inches,
but not more than about 40 inches between shanks is of
uppermost importance, according to Boehle, because a
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Tuning’ the soil A
The chisel plow and offset disk are taking over, or at least they should, if Boehle's
advice is followed. Water and air penetration within a soil are more important
than applied fertilizers, they say. The soil-testing organization also believes that:
Crop residues should not be plowed under, but rather "incorporated" into the
soil. Properly managed fields on a hillside will retain water even if they're bare,
t i,uid SuPP* cment
Evolving from a very primitive tool into a giant with more than a do;
“attacked" by some agronomists.