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Management Practices

Consultants' View: Soil Moisture Differs

Orvin Bontrager | July 10, 2011 | 12:31 PM
The wet surface conditions in Nebraska will be pushing the critical time for pre-plant nitrogen applications and spring fieldwork.

On open soybean stubble ground and shredded corn stubble, there is still a frozen layer of soil around 15 to 24 inches deep, as of March 22. In unshredded corn stalks, where more snow laid this winter, there is no more frost in the ground.

The silt loam soil moisture profiles in the third and fourth foot on nonirrigated fields are still dry. Much of the melted snow ran off because of the frozen soil conditions. Irrigated fields that did not have the crops dry up prematurely last fall are 75-80% field capacity with moisture in the deep profile at three to four feet.

Even though the surface is wet now, some substantial rains later in the spring will be needed to fill the soil profile on the non-irrigated fields and to ensure optimum dryland yields. Leaving the standing stubble to catch snow and maximize soil moisture retention will again pay off this year if below normal precipitation is experienced.
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