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Soil Acidity and Liming: Basic Information for Farmers and Gardeners

By: Carl Crozier, David Hardy SoilFacts

An introduction to soil acidity and liming for farmers and gardeners to increase crop income and improve lawn and garden performance. Topics covered include soil pH, soil testing, liming standards and application and incorporation of lime into soil.

Septic Systems and Their Maintenance

By: Mike Hoover, Tom Konsler, Jonathan Godfrey SoilFacts

This factsheet tells homeowners how to recognize and prevent problems with home septic systems. How septic systems work, where septic systems can be used, and maintenance on septic systems are covered.

Septic System Owner's Guide

By: Mike Hoover, Jonathan Godfrey SoilFacts

If you use a septic system or if you are buying a home with a septic system, this owner's guide can help you be sure that your septic system is used and maintained properly. This guide also provides a place to record and keep important information, such as a copy of your permit, a sketch of your system, and maintenance records.

Winter Annual Cover Crops

By: Carl Crozier, Greg Hoyt, Michael Wagger SoilFacts

This publication discusses production of winter annual cover crops, their benefits and management. Research has shown several important benefits of planting winter annual cover crops, chief among them erosion control, addition of nitrogen (N) to the soil for use by a subsequent crop, removal of nitrogen from the soil to prevent nutrient loading, buildup of soil organic matter and buildup of residue that acts as a mulch for water conservation or retention.

Soil Acidity and Liming for Agricultural Soils

By: Carl Crozier, David Hardy SoilFacts

Nearly all North Carolina soils are naturally acidic and need lime, which neutralizes the acidity, for optimum growth of crops, forages, turf, trees, and many ornamentals. Nature and cause of acidity, benefits of proper lime usage, soil testing and target pH, liming materials and lime application and incorporation are presented in this publication.

Why Do Septic Systems Fail?

By: David Lindbo, Jonathan Godfrey, Diana Rashash SoilFacts

This publication describes common causes for septic tank failures and suggests steps you can take to prevent failure of your system.

Careful Soil Sampling—The Key to Reliable Soil Test Information

By: Carl Crozier, Deanna Osmond, David Hardy SoilFacts

This publication explains how to obtain representative soil samples and to submit them for analysis. Where and when to take samples, proper sampling techniques, and submitting the samples for analysis are all covered.

Restoration and Management of Coastal Dune Vegetation

By: Stephen Broome SoilFacts

This publication discusses the features of coastal dunes and construction of new dunes using vegetation. The procedures recommended can help restore, enhance, and protect dune vegetation.

Best Management Practices for Agricultural Nutrients

By: Deanna Osmond, Daniel Line SoilFacts

This factsheet for farmers describes ways to control the harmful effects of excess nutrients while maintaining healthy, productive farm crops. Steps covered include testing your soil and following the soil testing recommendations, setting realistic yield goals, choosing the most suitable nitrogen sources, applying nitrogen correctly, using manure as a nutrient source, controlling erosion, managing water flow and fencing animals away from water flow.

Soils and Water Quality

By: David Crouse, Jonathan Godfrey, Rich McLaughlin, Deanna Osmond SoilFacts

North Carolina has an abundant supply of clean water, a resource vital to our high quality of life. Rivers, lakes, groundwater aquifers, and coastal estuaries are crucial to public health, economic development, and recreational opportunities. However, our water sources are constantly threatened with degradation by such activities as imprudent development, improperly managed agricultural and industrial activities, and unsound waste disposal practices. The soil exerts an important influence on water quality. How we manage the soil and what we put on it determine, in part, the level of treatment required to make our water supplies safe and enjoyable. This fact sheet explains how soils influence water quality and why efficient soil management helps protect water quality.

Chemical Treatment to Control Turbidity on Construction Sites

By: Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

Construction sites of more than one acre are required to install systems to retain sediment produced onsite. This factsheet describes several chemical treatment options, including polyacrylamides (PAM), gypsum and alum, for reducing turbidity in impounded water.

Soil Sampling for Precision Farming Systems

By: Carl Crozier, Ron Heiniger SoilFacts

This factsheet for farmers describes concepts, terminology, and guidelines concerning precision soil sampling. Proper testing allows farmers to apply the correct amount of lime and fertilizer to fields.

Waste Analysis

By: David Crouse, Kristin Hicks SoilFacts

This factsheet clarifies the importance of waste analysis and describes the procedures for taking reliable samples and submitting them to the Agronomic Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS).

Minimizing Risks of Soil Contaminants in Urban Gardens

By: Carl Crozier, Matthew Polizzotto, Lucy Bradley SoilFacts

This publication alerts prospective gardeners to some of the most common contaminants in urban soils, such as lead and other toxic metals, solvents, pesticides and total petroleum hydrocarbons. This will help minimize potential risks to gardeners and to those who consume garden produce. The document includes information regarding site characterization, common contaminants, soil testing, interpretation of results and strategies for reducing exposure risks.

Using Baffles to Improve Sediment Basins

By: Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

Runoff on construction sites often contains large amount of soil and trapping it before it leaves the site is critical in preventing damage to streams, rivers and lakes. This factsheet describes sediment traps and basins at construction sites and agricultural operations, which provide temporary pools for runoff that allow sediment to settle before the water is discharged into water.

Using Polyacrylamide (PAM) to Reduce Erosion on Construction Sites

By: Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This factsheet covers the use of polyacrylamides as a means of erosion control on construction sites. PAM characteristics and considerations are discussed as well as basic directions for use.

Conservation Tillage Use in Peanut Production

By: Alan Meijer, David Jordan SoilFacts

Peanut growers in North Carolina can successfully use conservation tillage if they carefully plan the transition from a conventional system. Growers should consider the production details, such as field selection and crop rotation and advisory index in this guide to make a successful transition.

Soil pH Management for Fraser Fir Christmas Tree Production

By: Carl Crozier, David Hardy SoilFacts

This publication offers a discussion on how to lime Fraser fir Christmas trees. Fraser fir Christmas trees require a lower soil pH than most crops grown in North Carolina. Special management strategies for soil pH, calcium, and magnesium are needed to provide proper nutrition without over-liming.

Sulfur Fertilization of North Carolina Crops

By: Carl Crozier, Greg Hoyt, David Hardy SoilFacts

Adequate sulfur is necessary for crops, but there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for application in North Carolina. Best management practices take sulfur removal and incidental sulfur inputs for the entire crop rotation, soil type and profile depth layers and soil and plant analysis results.

Nitrogen Management and Water Quality

By: Deanna Osmond SoilFacts

This factsheet describes the effect of fertilizer nitrogen on water quality and the environment. It provides guidelines for managing soil fertility on farms to preserve water quality.

Guidelines for the Commercial Application of Poultry Litter

By: David Crouse SoilFacts

A summary of North Carolina rules and regulations governing the purchasing, handling, application and reporting of poultry litter by commercial haulers. This publication also includes a sample agreement between growers and haulers regarding who has responsibility for the various stages of litter handling.

Poultry Manure as a Fertilizer Source

By: Joe Zublena, J. C. Barker, T. A. Carter SoilFacts

This factsheet describes the nutrient composition of poultry manure and land application techniques based on matching the nutritional requirements of the crop with the nutrients available in manure. This publication also includes a worksheet to determine the nutrient needs of your crop.

Agricultural Riparian Buffers

By: Deanna Osmond, Mike Burchell SoilFacts

This publication describes some basic concepts of hydrology and explains how water moves through or over a buffer. Using these concepts, it explains effective natural riparian buffers can be created using the grasses, trees, shrubs, and other vegetation growing along streams.

Soil and Plant Analysis for Christmas Trees

By: John Havlin SoilFacts

Nutrient analysis of soil and plant tissue should be an integral part of any tree crop management plan. While this publication was designed for Christmas tree growers, the principles outlined here may be easily applied to other tree crops.

Soil Management Can Maximize Water Availability

By: Alan Meijer, Joshua L. Heitman, Jeffrey G. White SoilFacts

This publication discusses water capacity, soil's effect on water availability, and proper soil management to maximize water availability. Soil texture and structure, soil density, soil crusting, tillage and controlled traffic are covered.

Investigate Before You Invest

By: Mike Hoover SoilFacts

This factsheet explains the steps to take when buying land where a septic system is needed to ensure that a safe septic system can be installed that meets state and county regulations.

The North Carolina Erosion and Sedimentation Pollution Control Program

By: Joseph Kleiss, Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This factsheet explains the requirements, standards, penalties and principles of the North Carolina Erosion and Sedimentation Pollution Control Program.

Selecting a Strip-Till Rig

By: Alan Meijer SoilFacts

Selecting the right tool for a job is essential. When that tool is as important and expensive as a farm implement, the same holds true—you want to buy farm equipment that does what you want; is strong, durable, and reliable; and is generally the best value for your money.

Chemical Turbidity Control in Pumped Construction Site Water

By: Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This publication describes methods to reduce turbidity and suspended solids in water being pumped into stilling basins or sediment bags, usually on construction sites where dewatering is needed.

Soil and Plant Analysis for Apple Trees

By: John Havlin SoilFacts

Nutrient analysis of soil and plant tissue should be an integral part of any tree crop management plan. While this publication was designed for apple growers, the principles outlined here may be easily applied to other tree crops.

The North Carolina Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool (PLAT): A Guide for Technical Specialists

By: Deanna Osmond, David Crouse, David Hardy, Josh Spencer SoilFacts

Phosphorus management is an important aspect of the USDA-NCRS nutrient management standard. Anyone applying animal waste or fertilizer in a nutrient-impaired subwatershed must determine potential phosphorus loss from each field. This publication describes in great detail the P-Index or Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool that is used in North Carolina for this purpose.

Nutrient Removal by Crops in North Carolina

By: Deanna Osmond, Jihoon Kang SoilFacts

This publication discusses nutrient removal by crops, which is useful in comparing the nutrient demands of different crops in conjunction with soil testing. The publication also includes a table of the estimated nutrient removal rates of various crops.

Swine Manure as a Fertilizer Source

By: Joe Zublena, J. C. Barker, J. W. Parker, C. Stanislaw SoilFacts

This factsheet explains the three factors of proper swine manure management: the nutrient content of the manure, the percentages of those nutrients that are available to the plant and the nutrient requirements of the plant.

Use of On-Farm Records for Modifying a Certified Animal Waste Management Plan

By: David Crouse, John Havlin SoilFacts

Changes in the interpretation of North Carolina water quality rules and technical standards allow for the use of on-farm records in the development of waste management plans. This publication describes the use of such records, citing examples. The use of on-farm records can work to an animal producer’s benefit by providing more site-specific information about how an animal waste management system should be operated, particularly with respect to the number of acres of crops necessary to properly utilize the nutrients (mainly nitrogen) in the wastewater.

Starter Phosphorus Fertilizer and Additives in North Carolina Soils: Use, Placement, and Plant Response

By: Sheri Cahill, Deanna Osmond, Ronald Gehl, David Hardy, Carl Crozier SoilFacts

Phosphorus (P) is the second most important nutrient in crop production but is often found in relatively low amounts in native soils. Decades of fertilizer application have led to P enrichment of most North Carolina agricultural soils. Excess soil P that leaves agricultural fields via runoff and drainage can cause algal blooms in water resources that lead to impaired drinking water quality and can limit recreational activities. Maintaining adequate soil P levels for crop growth can reduce P runoff, save money, and protect the environment

Managing Lawns and Gardens to Protect Water Quality

By: David Crouse, Rich McLaughlin, Deanna Osmond SoilFacts

The purposes of this factsheet are to identify several major pollutants that often originate in lawns and gardens, to describe the problems they may cause, and to outline some things that can be done to minimize their adverse effects on water quality. This information should benefit home gardeners, landscape developers, contract lawn care specialists, athletic field managers and others who manage soil to grow plants for food, pleasure, or profit.

Conservation Compliance: The Clock Is Ticking

By: Maurice Cook, Dana Hoag SoilFacts

This factsheet traces the progress that has been made in achieving conservation compliance, describes conservation practices that can be used to reduce erosion and discusses the economic factors to be considered when implementing conservation practices.

Reducing Drift and Odor with Wastewater Application

By: David Crouse, Sanjay Shah SoilFacts

This publication addresses application techniques that affect drift and odor problems associated with wastewater application, so that managers and designers of land application systems can make wise decisions on how to apply wastewater with minimal impact on neighbors and the environment.

Deep Soil Sampling for Nutrient Management

By: Deanna Osmond, David Hardy, David Crouse SoilFacts

Soil samples that determine lime and fertilizer needs of crops routinely come from the top 4 to 8 inches of soil. However, deep soil samples will be needed for the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool (PLAT), and this publication describes how to take these 28- to 32-inch deep samples.

Alternative Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizer Products for Row Crop Production

By: Deanna Osmond, Carl Crozier, Ron Heiniger SoilFacts

Nitrogen fertilizer products are being developed and marketed as having the potential to increase yields and nutrient use efficiency, and decrease volatilization (gas). How do these products actually perform on different soils and row crops, under various climatic conditions? This publication summarizes findings from recent studies that investigated alternative nitrogen fertilizer products for row crops in four North Carolina regions.

Improving Lawn Care and Gardening

By: Deanna Osmond, David Crouse, Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This question and answer worksheet will help homeowners focus on potential problems with drinking water or other water resources that may be caused by improper lawn or garden care. Use and storage of fertilizers and pesticides, watering plants, landscape design and soil erosion are discussed.

Mulch Options for Erosion Control on Construction Sites

By: Deanna Babcock, Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This publication discusses important characteristics, application rates, costs, and appropriate use of loose mulch, erosion control blankets, and hydraulically applied mulches as erosion control measures on construction sites.

Modifying Soil for Plant Growth around Your Home

By: Greg Hoyt, Deanna Osmond, Joshua L. Heitman, Al Cooke SoilFacts

This publication addresses the two major soil problems found on residential properties and how to rectify them: lack of the three necessary nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium) and soil pH.

Good Soil Management Helps Protect Groundwater

By: Maurice G. Cook SoilFacts

This publication discusses best practices management to prevent agricultural activities from contaminating groundwater. It covers the role of soil on the quality of groundwater, soil characteristics, characteristics of potential pollutants and management practices such as nitrogen and pesticide management.

Starter Fertilizers for Corn Production

By: Joe Zublena, John R. Anderson SoilFacts

Corn starter fertilizers have been used successfully to increase early plant growth, nutrient uptake, and yields in research trials and on the farm. They also promote earlier maturity, improve southern corn billbug control, and help suppress weeds through earlier shading. Use of starter fertilizers is increasing in North Carolina and the southeastern United States. This factsheet presents the principles of successful starter fertilizer use, research results relevant to North Carolina, and management suggestions for corn producers.

Production of Tomato Transplants in Float System Greenhouses

By: James Rideout SoilFacts

Successful production of tomato transplants in the float system requires strict attention to fertilization and height management. This publication covers proper nutritional practices, along with height control measures, that will promote production of high-quality transplants.

Fiber Check Dams and Polyacrylamide for Water Quality Improvement

By: Scott King, Rich McLaughlin SoilFacts

This publication discusses the construction of fiber check dams on construction sites to control sediment and runoff from the site. To save money and reduce construction site impacts on nearby surface waters, how to install fiber check dams, spacing of the dams and maintenance of the dams are covered in this factsheet.

Long-Term Tillage Effects on Corn and Soybean Yield in the Piedmont

By: Alan Meijer, R. D. Walters, Jeffrey G. White, Joshua Heitman, A. M. Howard SoilFacts

This publication discusses tillage treatments for large-seeded crops like corn and soybeans in the Piedmont region and recommends minimizing tillage based on research at the Upper Piedmont Research Station.

Dairy Manure as a Fertilizer Source

By: Joe Zublena, J.C. Barker, D. Wesen SoilFacts

This factsheet explains how to use dairy manure as a fertilizer source. Included are descriptions of nutrient content, application rates and application methods to ensure optimum benefit from the manure. A worksheet is provided for calculating application rates.

Surface Outlets for Sediment Basins

By: Rich McLaughlin, Albert Jarrett SoilFacts

Sediment basins are temporary stormwater pools that catch runoff so it can deposit some of its sediment. The typical outlet is either a rock dam or a perforated riser barrel, both of which allow water to leave the basin from all depths. One way to improve the sediment capture rate is to use an outlet that dewaters the basin from the top of the water column where the water is cleanest. This publication describes the Faircloth skimmer, flashboard risers and other outlet configurations that accomplish this goal.

Phosphorus Management for Land Application of Biosolids and Animal Waste

By: Karl Shaffer, Deanna Osmond, Sanjay Shah SoilFacts

This publication addresses nutrient management concerns as they relate to land application of animal wastes, municipal biosolids, industrial residuals and agricultural by-products, with a focus on phosphorus application and its impact on the environment. Methods for reducing phosphorus loss from land application sites are presented as general guidance for managers of land application systems, who must be knowledgeable of regulatory issues and permit restrictions as they relate to phosphorus and nutrient management.

The North Carolina Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool (PLAT)

By: Deanna Osmond, David Crouse, David Hardy, Josh Spencer, John Classen SoilFacts

Phosphorus management is an important aspect of the USDA-NCRS nutrient management standard. Anyone applying animal waste or fertilizer in a nutrient-impaired subwatershed must determine potential phosphorus loss from each field. This publication describes the P-Index or Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool that is used in North Carolina for this purpose.

How Rising Fertilizer Prices Affect Optimum Nitrogen Rates

By: John Havlin, Geoff Benson SoilFacts

This publication helps farmers decide whether to reduce fertilization rates in order to achieve maximum profits due to increases in nitrogen fertilizer prices.

Management of Single Family and Small Community Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems

By: Mike Hoover, W. J. Wicker, T. J. Hoban, Ted Feitshans, A. R. Rubin SoilFacts

The legal means for establishing sophisticated wastewater management programs have existed for some time in North Carolina; however, few communities or counties have used these programs to manage septic systems. Recent changes in state septic system rules will provide an incentive for communities to become involved in this process. This publication explains why these management programs are necessary and briefly introduces 12 options for implementing them.

Managing Equipment Traffic to Limit Soil Compaction

By: Carl Crozier, Alan Meijer, Joshua L. Heitman SoilFacts

Most soil compaction from equipment traffic occurs where tires contact soil during the first pass over soil. Farmers can reduce compaction by limiting traffic to interrows that have already been trafficked. The authors report their research on traffic patterns and recommend ways that farmers can manage field traffic to limit soil compaction.

Land Application of Municipal Sludge: Advantages and Concerns

By: Albert Rubin, L. M. Safley, Joe Zublena SoilFacts

This factsheet explains how proper land application of municipal biosolids can protect public health and maintain or improve environmental quality and it encourages the beneficial use of wastes.

Soil Fertility Management for Irish Potato Production in Eastern North Carolina

By: Carl Crozier, Nancy Creamer, Marc Cubeta SoilFacts

This publication describes fertilizer management strategies for optimum potato yields and to prevent problems (such as reduced stands, diseases, or poor tuber quality) that can be caused by improper fertilization.

Cold Injury and Boron Deficiency in Tobacco Seedlings

By: James Rideout, Laura F. Overstreet SoilFacts

This publication describes how the symptoms of cold injury and boron deficiency in tobacco seedlings in the float greenhouse are often confused.

Permit Guidelines for Application of Municipal Sludge on Agricultural Lands

By: Albert Rubin, Joe Zublena, J.C. Barker SoilFacts

This publication describes the permit guidelines for applying municipal sludge to agricultural lands to make use of its nutrients and prevent pollution. It also covers EPA recommendations for applying sludge.