What’s the soil food web got to do with it?
This is a special podcast to prepare our audience for the upcoming Climate Smart Agriculture enhancements to the EQIP and CSP programs, amongst others. In our previous podcast recorded in November 2022, we spoke to South Dakota NRCS’s Jessica Michalski and Kent Vlieger about some of the programmatic and practical aspects of the Climate Smart initiative, the potential opportunities for producers and what you as a producer can do to best prepare for the enhanced funding opportunity.
In this podcast, we speak to soil scientist/biogeochemist Dr. Andrea Jilling from Oklahoma State University’s Plant & Soil Sciences about some of the scientific underpinnings of the effect of climate smart practices that are extensively discussed in the previous podcast. Yes, we nerd out a little, but we think that you, our listeners are ready and will take this discussion in their stride and see how it may benefit you, especially as you think about your conservation plan and how the Climate Smart enhancements may benefit you.
Topics that we discuss include:
• What does the soil food web have to do with climate smart ag? Can you use climate smart ag to enhance nutrient efficiency? Just how diverse is organic matter, what is the rhizosphere?
• How plants harness solar energy, and why they invest so much in below ground development, especially root exudates.
• What do root exudates have to do with enhancing nutrient efficiency?
• What does it mean when we say “carbon is the energy currency of the soil”?
• How diverse is organic matter? Can we distinguish between particulate organic matter (POM) and mineral, or clay/silt associated organic matter?
• What and has recent science done to shed more light on how view mineral associated organic matter?
• How do POM and mineral associated organic matter work together to immobilize and release nutrients?
• What do plant-soil interactions look like over the lifecycle of the plant in releasing and immobilizing nutrients, what are the management possibilities in the future, and what can we do now to optimize plant-soil interactions?
• How do these principles work with soil minerals like phosphorus and why are pH hot spots at a microscopic scale are a big deal?
• What kinds of change could you expect in your soils if you decided to go all in for climate smart ag?
• What are scientists like Dr. Jilling thinking about for the future in agriculture? Will new research try to leverage more producer collaboration? Also, Dr. Jilling provides some parting words on resilience.
Dr Jilling can be found at:
For related articles on how soil health (and climate smart practices) can add real value to the farm see:
Successful farming’s: “Living Roots, Low input costs: Turning Cover Crops into Cash Crops Boosts Profits and lowers costs” https://www.agriculture.com/crops/cover-crops/living-roots-low-input-costs
No Till Farmer’s “How No-till improves land values” https://www.no-tillfarmer.com/articles/12090-how-no-till-improves-land-values