Soils and land management must go hand-in-hand if you’re looking to improve harvests and crop quality.

The latest studies in agriculture show once again that we need to pay closer attention to our soils. We can do a better job of understanding it, protecting it, and amending it. Soil is the thin layer of particles and organic matter on the surface of the Earth where plants grow. Though it may not seem it to us, it is quite a thin layer, and it’s easily lost. When we take care of soil, it can help us to grow bigger, healthier yields and feed more people on less acreage. Don Harden recently talked about Central Florida soils in Central Florida Ag News. Read what he shared—and a bit more—below.

Central Florida’s Soil

There are a number of different soil types in Florida, but most of Central Florida consists of sandhill karst terrain, and the typical soils are made up of sand, clay and organic deposits. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), labels it as ‘Aquods,’ which are “wet, sandy soils with an organic-stained subsoil layer.” Florida boasts the largest total acreage of Aquods in the country.

Central Florida’s soils are also classified as Myakka (pronounced My-yakah), which has surface and subsurface layers of gray fine sand and a subsoil of dark reddish-brown fine sand with organic stains. It is also the official state soil of Florida. Features of the soil include permeability and good aeration, rapid drainage and rich in organic material. In short, it’s good for agriculture but requires consistent irrigation, especially in the drier winter months.

Soils and Land Management

Knowing the details of the soil around your farm or ranch is key to getting the most out of the land when raising a crop or growing forage for livestock. Other soil features you should know include the soil’s pH, the nutrients it has and those it lacks, and the organisms in the soil. The USDA’s NRCS is a great resource for those looking to increase their knowledge and the quality of their farm or ranch’s soils.

Extension services are another resource. For instance, UF’s IFAS Extension services have released cool-season forage variety recommendations for those ranchers who grow cool-season forages for their livestock, and many of the recommendations depend upon your soil. For instance, cool-season forages need moisture in the soil. If the land is not irrigated, it is recommended that ranchers use conserved forages or supplements for livestock rather than a cool-season forage. Another point is that small grains are more drought-tolerant than rye grass, as are vetch and winter pea.

In short, knowing the features of your soil are important for all aspects of growing a crop. The soil’s features also come into play when evaluating the land and applying for farm mortgages or cattle ranch loans.

AgAmerica Lending looks to help the nation’s agriculture industry be as strong as possible, whether it’s with ag advice or our custom financial loan packages. Read more about how soil type affects land values.




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DON HARDEN

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Growing up in the Florida cattle and citrus business, Don Harden manages his family ranch of several thousand head of cattle and horses. He has almost 40 years of experience in the real estate business; 15 years of which were spent with a large real estate auction company specializing in agricultural sales.