Tag Archives: 2015 report

Soil Testing Laboratory helps save money and the environment

Tray full of soil samples.

Over the past year, the Soil Testing Laboratory has analyzed more than 51,000 soil samples from roughly 12,000 clients located in every county in Virginia.

For nearly 80 years, the Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory has been providing farmers and homeowners with a wealth of information to help them make the best nutrient management decisions for their properties.

The Soil Testing Laboratory helps clients find the perfect amount and combination of nutrients for their field or lawn by using a system that assesses the types of crops grown, past crop yields, and whether or not the field has a drainage system, among other factors.

If too much of one nutrient is used, the excess can be washed away; if too little is applied, the crops or turf may not grow as well. When a lawn or field is treated correctly, the environment is less likely to experience runoff and people spend less money on fertilizer.

“Rather than guessing what your soil needs, we’re actually measuring soil nutrients and making recommendations based on crop or plant needs,” said Steve Heckendorn, lab manager.

Over the past year, the Soil Testing Laboratory, located on Virginia Tech’s campus, has analyzed more than 51,000 soil samples from roughly 12,000 clients located in every county in Virginia.

Local agriculture and natural resources agents like Kelli Scott of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Montgomery County Office recommend soil tests to anyone concerned about their crops or lawns. The tests help protect the environment while saving money.

“Most often, it saves people money because they have that prescribed advice,” Scott said.

Posted in The Environment | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Soybeans come out on top

AgExpo 2009, VCE, soybeans in field

Soybeans are an important staple of Virginia agricultural exports and are among the top five crops exported to markets overseas. In the last agricultural census, soybeans were also the top revenue-generating crop with more than $300 million in sales.

The lucrative Virginia crop is sought out as far away as Japan, where fermented soybeans are eaten as a breakfast item called natto.

Hillary Mehl, assistant professor of plant pathology, physiology, and weed science, is working to keep Virginia a sustainable, soybean-producing powerhouse.

Mehl conducts research at Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Suffolk and works to better understand fungicides and their role in cultivating soybeans in the commonwealth.

“Part of our work at the AREC is looking at fungicide resistance in row crops, including soybeans,” said Mehl.

Recently she has been researching fungicide resistance of a disease that threatens soybeans, called frogeye leaf spot. The fungus creates brownish circular spots on leaves that can turn into large patches of blight.

She also collects weather-based information that allows her to determine the most optimal time for her constituents to apply fungicides.

“Ultimately this research will allow growers to forgo fungicide applications when they are not needed, which is good for the environment, and optimize application timings when they are needed to protect yield and farmer profits,” said Mehl.

Posted in Agriculture | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment