Today Sue and I went to a Soils workshop in Tombstone that was sponsored by the Hereford NRCD (Natural Resources Conservation District). We are what’s called “Co-operating” members. We joined and do our best to conserve the natural resources: Air, Earth, Water, Plants, and Animals. So we wanted to support the workshops that our district is holding. It was held at the Tombstone high school with help from the Future Farmers of America chapter there.
The main speaker was a soils scientist from Arizona State University who gave an extensive lecture on the make up of soil, soil pH, amending soil, and what our soil here is like as opposed to other places in the US and the world. He gave us a crash course on identifying different types of soils and how to use the soils pyramid. I’ve added the pyramid here, but I couldn’t begin to explain it to you. He had a wealth of knowledge and some great handouts in his cute little “I ❤ Soil” folder.
There was another scientist there, also from ASU, who led a hands on activity using actual soil and a worksheet to help identify the types. Sue did the activity and I took some horrible photos. She had gathered 4 different soil types and brought bottles of water so we would wet them to “feel” test the types. The man beside her is the other scientist from ASU. He also brought acid so you could see if the soil “effervesced” – if it does, you have an exceedingly high pH; not so great for planting. So, when doing this, you take about a tablespoon of soil (that has been sifted to remove aggregate) and add water to it. You try to make a ball out of the resulting mud. If the ball doesn’t hold together, you have a soil that is more sand than mud. This next photo shows Sue with her 2nd type of soil that would not hold a mud shape. It was also very gritty in feel. I have another photo of the lady holding a very good ball of mud.
She gave us a flow chart for testing. It’s all very interesting and will be fun to use on our soils at some point.
When we were done making mud-balls, we went back into the class and she gave us an interesting website call WebSoilSurvey which helps you to identify the type of soil in your particular area. There is also an app that you can download that works with your phone’s GPS which can tell you about the soil that you’re standing on; SoilWeb. It is available for both Android and iPhones – from wherever you download your apps. We haven’t had tie to test it out, nor the website, but it will make for some interesting experimentation.
The final person to speak was Don Decker, from the USDA. If you are a long time reader of this blog, you may recognize his name; he was the gentleman that came out from Douglas and walked the property with Sue talking about the soils and plants and what we were doing to help mitigate erosion, add nutrients to the soil etc. He is a self-confessed “grass” man. He is a proponent of utilizing native grasses to rebuild the range land. Getting rid of the invasive species trees and shrubs and helping rebuild from hundreds of years of poor land use. He gave us some great information on what they’ve been doing on the Ranches in Hereford and surrounding areas to conserve water, control erosion, and return the native grasses to the area. They brought along some great information banners with the photos taken at our local ranches. Overall it was a great workshop. At the end they asked for suggestions on others that we’d like to have… both Sue and I suggested Water Harvesting/Water Conservation. We hope to see that one soon.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this special report. Next week we’ll get back into our regular farm stuff. Until then, as always~
Thanks for reading!
Today’s Weather: Oh, the morning was glorious! The drive to Tombstone was beautiful. We even had enough time to pick up breakfast in down town Tombstone (we recommend the OK Cafe) and enjoyed a lovely morning walk down the main drag there. But by the time we were headed home the temperature began creeping up. 89° when we were ready to do chores and then 95° when I fed the dogs at 4:30. Currently, at 6:05 p.m., it is 77° with 27% humidity. Sunrise was at 6:43 and sunset was at 6:25 – but it started getting quite dark around 6:10 this evening.
Egg Report: Ok, I’m going to to a general egg report here. Our numbers have been getting pretty darn low. Today they went up a bit and we ended up with 19 chicken eggs and 1 duck egg. I don’t want to keep harping on this, but they are really beginning to slack off.