Louisiana: Soil Fertility Featured at Consultants Meeting

    A number of LSU AgCenter experts spoke at the annual Louisiana Agricultural Technology and Management Conference Feb. 14 to 16 at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville.

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    Pre-conference sessions were geared toward soil health and sustainability.

    AgCenter soybean specialist Todd Spivey discussed the importance of conducting a soil sample and having that sample analyzed.

    “Without a soil sample, there is really no way to know the needs of your soils,” Spivey said. “For most of the crops that we grow, the suitable pH should be between 6 and 7.”

    Several factors determine the pH of the soil, but normally the goal is to have the soil just a bit acidic, Spivey said.

    “Soil testing should be done on a regular basis, preferably annually, but at least every few years,” he said. “We need to properly interpret, recommend and apply what we get from those samples to have a strong program.”

    AgCenter soil fertility specialist Brenda Tubaña discussed soil properties and the basic soil-plant relationship.

    “There are certain components of the soil that we must be familiar with in order to understand how it effects the overall soil chemical properties which determines soil fertility,” she said.

    It is important to know the pH of the soil, not only as a way to understand nutrient uptake, but also to understand the activity of organic matter, which releases nutrients into the soil solution, she said.

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    Other AgCenter faculty discussed topics ranging from the development of a toxicant for feral swine to Bt resistance issues in field crops.

    During the general session, Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, discussed the importance of international trade and the effects that rural decline is having in Louisiana.

    “Trade is where the profitability of agriculture is,” Strain said. “In our $13 billion in production, $8.3 is exported. In America, one in three acres is exported.”

    Bill Richardson, LSU vice president for agriculture, gave an update on the estimated cuts to the AgCenter if the $934 million state budget deficit is not fixed during the current legislative special session.

    “As of right now, it looks like the AgCenter budget will be facing a $2 million cut,” he said. “This is a cut that we cannot afford at this time.”

    Richardson also talked about medical marijuana and the changes the AgCenter is implementing in the face of current budget reductions.

    “A new program we’re starting this year in the College of Agriculture is called 64 Parish Strong, where we will provide a scholarship to one student in each of the 64 parishes in the state,” he said.

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