RealAg Bookclub: Getting the dirt on the Soil Fertility Handbook

What’s the most important agronomic resource Ontario farmers could hold in their possession?

How about the new Soil Fertility Handbook? You’ll hear all about it on this episode of the RealAg Bookclub podcast as handbook editor, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs soil fertility specialist Jake Munroe, tells us why there should be a copy of the new edition of the handbook under every farmer’s tree this Christmas.

Host Bernard Tobin and Munroe kick off this episode discussing whether it’s appropriate to call our soil ‘dirt.’ Real dirt, good dirt – are they terms of endearment or are we disrespecting our hard-working, productive soils?

Munroe agrees that farmers have always been appreciative of their soil and the role it plays in the success of their farm, but it’s fair to say that farmers, over the past decade,  have become much more active managers of their soil. That’s in full evidence at agronomy meetings he attends where farmers pepper him with questions on everything from nutrient management to building organic matter and the value of cover crops.

Munroe says he consults the Handbook regularly. It covers topics such as soil testing, soil pH, and lime and fertilizer application. There’s a chapter on organic nutrient sources, like manure, biosolids, and cover crops, as well as tips for identifying nutrient deficiencies in the field. (Story continues after the podcast.)

Tobin notes that one of the key features of the Handbook is its readability — it’s comprehensive yet written in plain language. It’s not easy to boil down complex soil science but the editor and his contributors pull it off. Munroe says much of the credit goes to a huge cast of contributors who continue to build upon the simple and direct communication that appeared in the 1998 first edition.

If you’re looking for a great last-minute Christmas present for your farming family and friends,  you can download a PDF copy of the book for free from OMAFRA website. Why not share the link before Christmas and also order a hard copy for $20 plus tax and shipping from Service Ontario.

Check out other RealAg Bookclub podcasts : The Soil Fixers with Harold Rudy.

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