Crops > Soil Management and Fertility

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Take a Good Soil Sample to Help Make Good Fertilization Decisions
Learn more about the most important step in soil testing to make fertilization decisions - collecting the soil sample. Includes information on materials needed, when to sample, how to select a sample
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Micronutrient Publication for Vegetable Growers
Although needed in very small amounts, micronutrients have an important role to play in plant growth and development. Most of them are involved in enzymatic reactions that are essential for plant surv
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Building Soil Health
This soil health management publication provides an overview about soil functions and services that are essential for sustainable agriculture systems. The research-based information in this publicatio
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Nitrogen Use in Iowa Corn Production
Nitrogen is essential for growth and reproduction of crops and is involved in many important plant biochemical processes. Nitrogen management is critical for optimal yields for corn production systems
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Iowa Soil Health Field Guide
This soil health field guide provides information about soil health and its importance to sustainable agriculture systems. The research-based information in this soil health guide highlights the relat
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Iowa Soil Health Assessment Card
This card is for field assessment and evaluation of soil health indicators as part of the Iowa Soil Health Field Guide. The rating descriptions for each indicator presented on the score card represent
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Iowa Soil Health Management Manual
This soil health management manual provides information about soil functions and services that are essential for sustainable agriculture systems. The research-based information in this soil health man
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Conservation Techniques for Vegetable Production: Combining Strip-Tillage and Cover Crops
Strip-tillage is when a crop is planted into narrow, tilled strips and the non-tilled area between the strips might contain residue from the previous season's main crop or a living or dead cover crop.
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Sulfur Management for Iowa Crop Production
Summary of statewide evaluation in Iowa of alfalfa and corn yield response to applied sulfur fertilizers. On-farm, small-plot and field-length strip trial yield response data presented from 2005-2013.
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Soil-Test Results Summaries 2006-2010
The Iowa State University Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Laboratory received soil samples submitted by Iowa farmers from different counties statewide during January 2006 to December 2010. Select s
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On-Farm Study Researches Novozymes Fermentation Spent Residuals
The Novozymes enzyme-manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska, produces enzymes through aerobic fermentation of non-pathogenic and non-toxigenic microorganisms. The process generates a solid byproduc
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Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide 2nd Edition
The updated and expanded edition of this popular, 162-page guide includes nearly 30 pages of new material, including cover crop suggestions for common rotations, up-and-coming cover crop species, effe
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Soil Sample Information Sheet for Field Crops
Form to submit field crop soil sample information to the ISU Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory. Remember to keep a copy for yourself.
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Industrial Corn Stover Harvest
Stakeholders in the corn stover supply chain will have to prepare for variations at harvest in stover moisture, field conditions, equipment operations, and after-harvest storage issues. This publicati
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Corn Stover Harvesting Machinery
Industrial corn stover production includes windrowing, baling, and bale collection. This publication details the basic machinery systems used in the harvesting process.
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Productivity of Corn Stover Bale Handling Systems
Moving corn stover bales can create transportation and handling challenges. This publication summarizes current technology and recommendations for eliminating system inefficiencies.
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Sample Size Determination for Corn Stover Assessment
Accurate assessment of corn stover feedstock quality is a key issue for suppliers and end users. This publication addresses the impact of sample size on the accurate measurement of feedstock propertie
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Field and Bale-level Moisture Content Variability
Knowing the moisture content of biomass is critical to preventing its microbial degradation. This publication addresses how making appropriate storage decisions can help producers and end users manage
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Nutrient Removal from Corn Stover Harvesting
Nutrient removal during harvest is a key consideration in determining corn stover value. The publication summarizes results of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium concentration tests in corn stover b
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Methods for Rapid Moisture Analysis
Rapid testing of moisture content is important for commercial scale corn stover production and processing. This publication summarizes the results of two rapid moisture analyzers.
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Managing Crop Residue Removal and Soil Quality Changes
Significant, short-term effects of residue removal on soil physical properties can take place with residue management or removal. The adoption of no-till may offset some of these effects.
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Managing Crop Residue Removal and Soil Organic Matter
Following proper management practices is important when considering residue removal. When making removal decisions, keep in mind the adverse impact on soil productivity and environmental quality over
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Nutrient Considerations with Corn Stover Harvest
Weigh the relationships between corn stover harvest (as compared to grain only harvest) with the research presented in this publication. Make informed decisions about using stover harvest for bioen
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Consider the Possibility of Reduced Tillage after Biomass Harvest
Find options for handling the increased cornstalk residue that results from increased corn grain yields. Options such as aggressive tillage, no-till, strip-till, and removal of harvested corn stover a
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Issues with Stover Removal on Rented Land
Know the points to discuss on issues with corn stover removal on rented land. Points covered include ownership of stover, dispersal of increased revenue, and maintenance of soil quality and fertility.
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Economics of Harvesting and Transporting Corn Stover
Consider the economic factors involved when deciding to harvest corn stover. Includes estimated costs involved in windrowing, baling, collecting/handling, and transporting. Also includes custom rates
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Estimating a Value for Corn Stover
Compare the value of harvested corn stover as a winter feed for beef cattle with the feedstocks it would replace. Also consider its value as bedding for livestock. Find information about price per bal
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Corn Stover Harvest Window
Gain insight into managing corn stover harvesting teams to fit the limited harvest window in Iowa. Includes average harvesting span (27 working days) based on USDA corn harvest date for Iowa. Also giv
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Single-pass Harvesting Technologies
Single-pass corn stover harvesting offers unique quality and cost advantages. This publication details key performance metrics of this harvesting method.
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Corn Stover Storage Methods
Storage is a critical factor for corn stover and other biomass feedstocks. This publication details considerations for selecting an appropriate storage system.
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Corn Stover Storage Losses
Consider storage losses as a part of supplying corn stover to a biorefinery over an extended period. Gives typical storage losses for bales stored under various conditions. Also projects varying inter
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Fire Risk in Corn Stover Storage
Know the fire risks when stacking bales of corn stover. Gives insight into storage location and design, and ways to navigate local fire codes and safety regulations. Includes best practices for siting
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Transporting Biomass on Iowa Roadways
Several Iowa laws govern the commercial hauling of corn stover and other biomass feedstocks. This publication details the legal requirements, hauling configurations, local dimension restrictions, and
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Corn Stover Ash
Ash content of corn stover is a major quality factor for biorefineries. This publication summarizes the types of ash and how they are affected by different harvesting methods.
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Interpretation of Soil Test Results
A detailed explanation on how to interpret soil test results to assist with soil nutrient recommendations.
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A General Guide for Crop Nutrient and Limestone Recommendations in Iowa
Find phosphorus and potassium recommendations, micronutrient recommendations, and limestone recommendations for soils. Also find soil test procedures and categories.
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Soil Judging in Iowa
Soil judging consists of evaluating certain properties of a soil and translating these evaluations into recommendations for land use. This booklet is a guide for making these evaluations and interpret
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Iowa Soil Judging Score Card
Soil judging consists of evaluating certain properties of a soil and interpreting these evaluations for land use recommendations. This score card provides space for recording both the choices made an
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Corn Suitability Ratings -- An Index to Soil Productivity
Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) is an index procedure developed in Iowa to rate each different kind of soil for its potential row-crop productivity. The CSR can be used to rate one soil’s potential yiel
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Determining Your Manure Management Plan Due Date
This fact sheet provides step by step directions for accessing the DNR Animal Feeding Operations public database to determine due dates of manure management annual plan updates and four-year plans.
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Nutrient Deficiencies and Application Injuries in Field Crops -- Integrated Pest Management
Color photos and descriptions aid in identifying nutrient deficiencies and injury due to fertilizer in order to accurately diagnose symptoms for corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and winter wheat. More inform
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Converting CRP Land to Pasture - Managing Weeds and Fertility | Conservation Reserve Program: Issues and Options
Suggestions for taking care of weed and brush problems on CRP land before beginning a grazing system. Good grazing management will help maintain fertility and reduce further weed problems.
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Soil Erosion and Water Quality -- Resource Conservation Practices
Soil erosion by water and the impact of sediment-attached nutrients on lakes and streams creates problems for both agricultural land and water quality. Learn more about this topic along with conserva
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Conservation Buffers and Water Quality -- Resource Conservation Practices
Buffers are designed to intercept sediment and nutrients and reduce soil erosion; they also help enhance air and water quality and fish and wildlife habitats. Learn how to understand, manage, and ma
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Considerations in Selecting No-Till -- Resource Conservation Practices
Consider the advantages of a no-till system. This publication looks at weed control, residue management, equipment requirements, nutrient management and the results of yield and economic return studi
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A Targeted Conservation Approach for Improving Environmental Quality
Find out how targeted conservation practices can have the most impact on environmental quality while causing only a small change in overall agricultural production. Environmental benefits are discusse
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Soil Erosion, Crop Productivity and Cultural Practices
Research details on soil management effects on yield on sloped areas.
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Consider the Strip-Tillage Alternative -- Resource Conservation Practices
Strip-tillage is an alternative to no-till in areas where poorly drained soils are dominant. Read about comparisons of strip-tillage to other tillage systems and the benefits and possible concerns.
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Soil Fertility Management Strategies - Philosophies, Crop Response and Costs -- Sustainable Agriculture
Results of a three-year study of side-by-side research plots to evaluate two different fertility management strategies (sufficient level of available nutrients and cation ratio).
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Data Collection Worksheet for RUSLE2 and Iowa Phosphorous Index
This worksheet provides guidelines for using the computer program RUSLE2 (Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation 2) and for calculating the Iowa Phosphorous Index. These are needed in nutrient manageme
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Effectiveness of Gypsum in the North-central Region of the U.S.
Find out about the specific, limited ways gypsum can be used effectively as a soil amendment in the North Central Region of the U.S.
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Iowa Soil Quality Card
Provides a method and details for a qualitative assessment of soil function and evaluation ratings.
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Applying Fertilizer and Lime to CRP Land | Conservation Reserve Program: Issues and Options
Sample and test soil to determine how much fertilizer, manure, and lime to apply to meet crop needs when converting land in CRP to crop production.
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Planting Corn or Soybeans into CRP Sod Ground | Conservation Reserve Program: Issues and Options
Get the details on planting corn or soybeans into CRP sod ground. Soybeans may offer fewer problems than corn.
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Tillage, Manure Management, and Water Quality -- Resources Conservation Practices
Tillage and manure application practices significantly impact surface and ground water quality in Iowa. Learn how tillage and manure management affect soil erosion and considerations for nitrogen an
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Tillage Management and Soil Organic Matter -- Resources Conservation Practices
It has been well documented that increased tillage can reduce soil organic matter in topsoil. Learn what soil organic matter is; the importance of surface residue, tillage effect, and quality conser
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Agricultural Phosphorus Management and Water Quality Protection in the Midwest (EPA Region 7)
For nutrient management planners -- to understand the risk of phosphorus in surface waters and to manage this risk. Targeted for Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
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Manure and Tillage Management -- Resource Conservation Practices
Adopting best management practices throughout an operation must take into consideration both manure application and tillage management.
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How to Sample Manure for Nutrient Analysis
Because every livestock production and manure management system is unique, the best way to assess manure materials is by sampling and analyzing the manure at a laboratory. In this publication find in
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Soil Quality in Organic Agricultural Systems
Building and maintaining soil quality is the basis for successful organic farming. Topics of crop rotations, soil amendments, soil health, carbon sequestration, organic agriculture philosophies, and
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Residue Management and Cultural Practices -- Resource Conservation Practices
High crop residue levels translate directly into soil conservation benefits. Includes what affects crop residue and four methods of measuring it.
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Understanding and Managing Soil Compaction -- Resource Conservation Practices
Excessively compacted soil can result in many problems including a reduced yield and an increase in horsepower and fuel necessary for tillage. Learn more about this problem as well as ways to reduce
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Improving the Uniformity of Anhydrous Ammonia Application
Learn ways to reduce application inefficiencies of anhydrous ammonia.
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Impact of Tillage Crop Rotation Systems on Soil Carbon Sequestration
Report on the relationship between current agricultural practices and the carbon cycle.
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Soil Sampling for Variable Rate Fertilizer and Lime Application
This booklet contains information about grid and zone soil sampling, variation in soil test values over time, sampling strategies for both grid cells and zones, and considerations for conservation ti
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Establishing Realistic Yield Goals
Establishing realistic yield goals provides a basis for enhancing management effectiveness and increasing efficiency of crop production.
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Cornstalk Testing to Evaluate Nitrogen Management
Details on this test, done on the lower portion of cornstalks at the end of the growing season, and how it should be used.
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Soil Wetting Agents: Their Use in Crop Production
This publication discusses how the water infiltration process works and how wetting agents affect this process. Soil problems associated with water repellency, testing for water repellency, and facto
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Nitrogen Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn in Iowa
This pamphlet replaces all earlier guidelines for using the late-spring test for soil nitrate and all previous nitrogen fertilizer recommendations based on corn yield goals and credits for N supplied
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Effectiveness of Using Low Rates of Plant Nutrients
Although some producers may think about using low rates of fertilizer to reduce input costs, this can adversely affect yields if soil fertility drops below optimal levels. Read about the research to
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Soil Cation Ratios for Crop Production
This 1994 publication provides basic information on cation ratios, their history and early development, cation ratios in soil, and cation ratios in crop production.
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Soil Conditioners

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Planning -- Conservation Tillage
Selecting a tillage system is one of a crop producer's most important management decisions. Conservation tillage reduces preplant tillage operations, thus reducing soil erosion and saving on labor a
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Fertility Practices and Equipment for No-Till and Ridge-Till -- Conservation Tillage
Fertilization decisions for reduced tillage need to be based on good soil tests and reasonable yield goals. Then check this pub for appropriate equipment possibilities and procedures.
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Cultivators for No-Till and Ridge-Till -- Conservation Tillage
Get information on no-till and ridge-till equipment and management tips.
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Plant Growth Regulators - Their Use in Crop Production
Plant growth regulators (organic compounds other than nutrients) and their effects on crop growth are discussed in depth in this publication. Topics include root growth, disease resistance, and stres
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