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I’m a dairy nutritionist, but years ago I got into soils.
As a dairy guy, I realized you have to treat soils like you would treat a cow. In a cow, we talk about digestion and give them feed. In soils, we talk about residues that have to be rotted down. But it’s still a biological system and there’s still minerals involved.
Fifty years ago, dairy farms were producing 45 pounds of milk a day. Today, that same farm makes 100 pounds of milk a day. What happened? We learned about digestibility and figured out we could feed cows differently. Back then, we fed cows dry hay, corn cobs, some corn silage, a little dicalcium phosphate and trace mineral salt. There’s not a single dairyman that does that anymore.
Nowadays, feed is all about total mixed rations — seven different types of commodities and feeds and chelated nutritionals, bypass proteins and direct-fed microbials all mixed together for maximum efficiency.
Let’s go back 40 years ago on the soils. What did we do? We found a cheaper source of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potash (K) and limed to a 6.5 pH. What’s different today? Nothing! Why haven’t we changed our approach to feeding the soil the way we changed our approach to feeding livestock?