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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just got my soil samples back from Midwest Labs from 2 different bermuda grass hay fields. OM on one is .8 and the other is 1.2 both of which are very low. A quick background on both fields. They used to be in cattle some 20 yrs ago then was just left to their own devices. I started to spray for weeds and fertilize both areas 4 years ago. I use both hay fields for small square bermuda hay production. Typical to central OK the soil composition is heavy red clay. I do fertilize every year but not sure how to get the organic matter to increase. I know that the higher the OM the better the fertilizer will be utilized. Recommendation for a 3 T/A yield for both fields are 125N, 65P, 80K. I will probably bump those rates up a bit to try to get to 4 T/A however I don't think that will improve OM at all. Thoughts??
 

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They say you’re a man of vision....
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OM is 80% roots. I remember reading in Stockman Grass Farmer about how the hot weather you fellas get is a bane to OM.

A good rule of thumb for root systems in grasslands is for every inch above ground, you have an inch of root below ground. That's why rotational grazing builds OM relatively quickly. Grass grows up, critters mow it off, so the roots die back, essentially building OM, and the cycle starts again. Clear as mud?
 

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Iam not sure where your at but some places have a hard time building organic matter cause of the warm/hot weathet and lots of rain. Rain forests have very little organic matter. It just gets ate up too fast. Sometimes in my area we have the opposite problem. Things take a long time to rot away because it can be cool and dry.
 

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What is the PH?
 

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This gentlemen Gabe Brown address om and other things in this video he has several on youtube some are shorter, others run an hour to an hour and half very interesting material. Posted a link I think that video is like an hour and twenty tree minutes but it goes quickly at least in my opinion

 
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Earthworms do their best at a ph of 7 - 7.5. If the soil is acid, their populations will fall. I don't know if this is a big problem, but I would check it out. If I were in your shoes, I would lime the soil in a small area (half acre or so) to bring up the Ph to 7 + and see what the earthworm population does. If you can get their populations up, they will help increase organic matter. Anhydrous can kill earthworms, so I would not use that material.
 
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Hay Master
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Strange from me but you need lime.

Not so strange is consider a winter cover crop. A Giant radish of some kind, or turnips. Drill in or plant with a no till planter. Try some winter peas or vetch. Terminate the winter cover crop bedfor bermudagrass green up.

Stay away from Ryegrass.

An Okie who works for Arkansas can give you better advise than I. Doug Galloway [email protected], or go to the Nobel Foundation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Appreciate all the inputs. Enjoyed the video as well. Looks like I need to get a no-till and go to work. Believe I will overseed one of my bermuda hay fields this fall and just make it my "organic" field to see how things develop. Just need to decide what to throw into the mix. Thanks again for all the responses!
 

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They say you’re a man of vision....
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I've got a similar situation and am thinking about spraying TerraOne on it. It's organisms that are supposed to build up OM. I have not tried it, but considering the cost of other items it's pretty cheap about $16 an acre.
Unfortunately, there is no OM in a can. From what I found, it is mycorrhizal fungi and microbes, which is very beneficial, but is NOT organic matter in the way you're thinking. It's more of an inoculant, which helps seedling growth and viability. All good things, but probably not going to increase you're OM much if at all.
 

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If you want more organic matter, then be good to your friends, that is, be good to your earthworms.

#1. Get the Ph of your soil to an earthworm friendly 7.0 to 7.5. You may need to lime or add sulfur to your soil.

#2. Make sure the moisture of your soil is consistent, don't let it get real dry, and don't let it flood.

#3. Provide plant material for the earthworms, that is, grow plant material (your crop residue) for them to consume.

The way to grow this plant material is to smartly fertilize and irrigate your soil by providing ample nutrients for the plants while avoiding any harsh fertilizer that might be toxic to the earthworms. ( for example, anhydrous ammonia is deadly to earthworms).

Once you understand earthworms, your OM will rise.
 
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Do you have access to chicken litter or dairy waste? We have had good results with chicken litter on similar ground.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
No chicken litter that is real close to me. I am planning to no-till in a mix of cereal rye, wheat, and forage radishes into my bermuda fields in a couple of weeks. Will bale it in early spring before the bermuda kicks in. I know it will take some time to get the OM up but I'm sure it will make a difference.
 
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