What’s in the Soil Survey

Every year, we head out on the land and try to put a crop in the ground. The soil is what allows that to happen. It is something that we all need to understand. The Saskatchewan Soil Survey is a tool that all growers should be looking at to help them understand what potential is for their farm. If you understand the soil survey for your land base, the ability to hit top yields goes up. The Soil Survey is organized on a Rural Municipality basis. In our local RM’s, we have many different soil associations (over 20). On a given field, I have seen as many as 5 associations. It is more common to see 2 or three. These different soil associations have different properties that need to be understood. In our area, there are six main soil associations that we farm. They include the Meadow Lake, Makwa, Loon River, Horsehead, Dorintosh and Beaver River associations. They all have unique soil textures, inherent fertility and organic matter contents which require unique management practices. The next part of the soil survey heads into a discussion of limitations which occur within the various associations. These descriptions help landowners determine what issues may be present that might limit productivity. Issues like rocks are very obvious to landowners. If rocks are present, there are different farming practices that must be looked at. There are other issues like slope of the land that are obvious and create issues for producers trying to manga a specific piece of land. The descriptions that are not obvious are tools that producers should be looking at to help better manage their acres. Erosion potential is something that is talked about in the soil survey. Different types of erosion can happen like wind and water erosion. Direct seeding has helped to reduce the potential of both wind and water erosion but if a piece of ground is at risk, management practices should be implemented to insure that the soil stays in place and does not end up in the air or in our rivers or lakes. Soil drainage is also talked about in the soil survey. A soil that has high clay content or low organic matter content can have a problem with internal drainage. Understanding this will help ensure that the roots can have a chance to grow. Special soil properties such as salts and sodium problems are also looked at in the soil survey. These issues are important to understand if the roots are going to be able to get to the nutrients that the plants need. Identifying these issues and knowing what can be done about them is critical to attain top production. Understanding soils in essential to good farming practices. The soil survey for your area provides information on your ground that can help attain high yields. If you are interested in better understanding your soils, stop in at our office and we can discuss how the soil survey can help you do a better job of farming.