tilling the field

Concentrate Organic Matter at Surface to Improve Soils

Organic matter is the key to soil quality, but building soil organic matter levels can be slow and expensive. There is an alternative. Research shows (Franzluebbers, 2002) many soil functions improve when organic matter is concentrated in the top 2-3″ of the soil, and that, for many soils and environments, this may be the most effective way to improve soil quality. Soil organic matter (SOM) is crucial for many soil functions, and so has been a primary indicator of soil quality. The % organic matter of the top 6, 8, or 12″ of soil is often used to evaluate whether a soil is improving or degrading. In gardens and small fields, it is relatively easy to increase the quantity of SOM. Not so in large fields where crop residues are often the only source of organic matter, and where increasing SOM by even 0.5% may require a decade of costly

Misuse Of A Vietnam Era Tragedy

Mark Twain once said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  There was a perfect example of that last month.  The Center for Food Safety (CFS) spread the term, “Agent Orange Corn” for Dow AgroSciences’ new biotech corn hybrids that are working their way through the regulatory process.   These hybrids have been modified to be more resistant to 2,4-D, an herbicide that was introduced in 1948.  This is being cast as a return to the use of Agent Orange and that is completely untrue.  There is a lot of interesting detail behind this, but the CFS moniker for the corn is a classic case of information twisting – twisting in a way that is intentionally misleading.  The reason that the term “Agent Orange Corn” is inaccurate can be discovered in a 1-minute Wikipedia search, but this did not prevent