Soil Balancing

Soil management has indisputably large effects on crops, farms, and the environment. “Soil Balancing” (SB) based on base cation saturation ratios is one major approach to soil management. Proponents of SB describe it as a holistic approach to enhancing soil health, crop yield and quality, and weed control – one or more of which can also enhance farm income. These benefits, however, have not been demonstrated experimentally nor have the possible drawbacks of SB been examined and discussed widely.

A multidisciplinary team including the VPSL is working to develop a more complete and widely-shared understanding of SB. That understanding will help move the science and practice of SB forward, for people to apply and study SB principles and practices more effectively. We work with farmers, consultants, and others in experimenting with SB approaches and documenting their impacts on farms, soils, crops, and weeds.

Click here to learn more about our ongoing project actvities.

Call-In Conversations

The OSU SB Team has completed dozens of farmer interviews, processed hundreds of related farmer surveys, completed numerous experiments on farms and at research stations, and listened carefully to input from its Stakeholder Advisory Committee and farmer- and consultant-partners in its effort. As a next step, we look to catalyze dynamic, informative, and stakeholder-focused conversations about the basis and practice of SB. Please join us and to listen, learn, and contribute. Resource people will be on hand to provide input but also wish to hear from callers.

Call 1 … October 17, 2018 … 1:30-3:00pm EST

Soil Balancing: From ‘Renegade’, Grass-Roots Past to Open Future

Description: The history and current use of Soil Balancing as an approach to soil, crop, weed, and overall farm management provides a rich opportunity to increase mutual understanding and capitalize on the different ways that farmers and scientists develop and use their knowledge. Join us to discuss what the idea and practice of Soil Balancing currently means to farmers, researchers, and consultants, and to brainstorm ways to in which improved soil management can strengthen sustainably-minded farm management.

Resource People: Steve Culman (The OSU), Doug Doohan (The OSU), Will Glazik (Cow Creek Organic Farm), Doug Jackson-Smith (The OSU), John Kempf (Advancing EcoAgriculture), Bill McKibben (Logan Labs, LLC)

Listen to of Call 1 below:

Call 2 … November 14, 2018 … 1:30-3:00 pm EST

Soil Balancing: What do the Numbers Say about its Effects on Soils, Crops, Weeds, and Farms?

Description: Everyone uses numbers to make decisions, although numbers they have and ways they use them often differ. These differences can spell both excitement and challenge when trying to understand and use Soil Balancing. Join us to discuss Soil Balancing by the numbers – farmers’, consultants’, and researchers’ – focusing on numbers we have and numbers we wish we had.

Possible Resource People: Steve Culman (The OSU), Doug Doohan (The OSU), Doug Jackson-Smith (The OSU), Bob Jones, Jr ( target=”noopener”>The Chef’s Garden), Subbu Kumarappan (The OSU), Josh McGrath (Univ. KY), Joe Nester (Nester Ag, LLC)

Call 3 … December 12, 2018 … 1:30-3:00 pm EST

Soil Balancing: The Questions Matter

Description: “You don’t know enough to know what you need to know.” This recent recollection by a farmer about their encounter with a more experienced one reminds us that questions matter. Much is said, written, and claimed about Soil Balancing but all is still not clear about it. If there is to be a more useful knowledge base about Soil Balancing — shared by farmers, consultants, and researchers alike – questions and ways of addressing them will also have to be shared and accepted by many. Join us to discuss and shape where investigations of Soil Balancing should go next and how.

Possible Resource People: Doug Jackson-Smith (The OSU), Lou Kozma (Hirzel Canning Co. and Farms), Josh McGrath (Univ. KY), James Schiltz (Midwestern BioAg), Matthew Krause (BioWorks)

Growers, grower advisors (private, public), product manufacturers, and students are encouraged to participate in the conference calls moderated by Matt Kleinhenz of the Soil Balancing Team. Experience with SB is not required, only genuine curiosity about its basis and current or potential use in sustainable-organic production.

Participants will call in to participate in each conversation. Questions can also be submitted to go.osu.edu/sbnow before, during, and after each scheduled conversation.

To register for a call, click here

Publications

Our Conference Abstracts

Our Journal Articles

Building a Shared Understanding of Soil Balancing
Matt Kleinhenz
The Ohio State University

Other Websites

Organic Farming Research Network