Paint fades, but healthy soil does not


I love old TV shows. I could watch Andy Griffith till the cows come home. My wife says that I act like Andy and she acts like Barney, but there’s almost always a lesson involved in the fun.

I don’t watch ‘reality’ shows, but we had one way back then that I loved, and it’s hit home with a lot of Farm & Dairy readers.

If there was a new version it would start out with a little banjo music, but with new lyrics:

Come and listen to my story ’bout a farmer named Ned

Third generation — always workin’ in the red

Then one day a landman changed his mood

Said “Your troubles are over if you lease for your crude.”

Well, the first thing ya know, old Ned’s a millionaire

Kin folks said “Ned, can we have a share?”

Said new stuff is what we wanna see,

So he traded in his Ford for a new GMC.

Blessing or curse.

It all seemed so easy for Jed and Granny back then, but the reality is a lot of folks have benefitted from all the shale activity, and it can be a blessing or a curse. All depends on how you handle it.

All the local equipment dealers are happy, as folks turn to new equipment that was always out of reach before, and that is great for everyone and the economy.

I’ll never fault anyone for upgrading whenever they can, and all that new paint kinda helps to spruce things up around the place, too. But if your tax guy says you need more deductions, let me make a suggestion.

Fertility level.

Take a little time and a little money and take a good look at the fertility level of your fields. When was the last time you pulled a soil test for that corner pasture that you can only graze for a few days a month cause there’s not much grass? For that matter, when’s the last time you sampled your best field?

If it’s been within the last three years, then good for you, and I hope you’re dealing with the deficiencies. If it’s been longer, or if you can’t remember, then this is something to start thinking about.

If you fertilize all your fields every year and you’re happy with all of your yields, then you can stop reading now.

If you’re like the rest of us, then the only real way to fix them, is to start with a test, then follow through with the recommendations that are listed on your test result.

If you have trouble understanding what they say, visit your Extension agent, your Soil and Water office, or your fertilizer dealer and try to learn what they mean when they write that you need 150 pounds of Phosphorus and 300 or 400 pounds of Potash to start a new alfalfa seeding.

I know that’s extreme, but my point is spreading a couple hundred pounds of triple 19 won’t solve any long term problems, and I can show you my results to prove it.

If you think it’s too expensive, think about it this way. For about half the price of that new Moco you’ve been thinking about, you could probably buy enough lime and fertilizer to bring every acre up to top production levels. Just remember that fields don’t get poor overnight, and reversing them may take years.


So, if you’re serious about leaving your legacy, don’t make it all about new paint. As good as that shiny new tractor looks sitting in front of the shiny new barn, wouldn’t you rather have the neighbors looking beyond the barn and seeing the best fields around?

After all, paint fades eventually, but healthy soils will never be out of fashion. Hope you have productive summer, if the rain ever stops…..


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Jim Mizik has been the district technician for the Noble Soil and Water Conservation District since 1999. He also raises beef cattle with his son, Jeremy, on his family farm.



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