Art & Science

How the Soup is Made from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

American Historian Will Durant said, “Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art”. When we talk about soil sampling, crop needs, and fertilizer prescriptions there is no more truth than what lays in that quote. As humans, we first started to understand the connection of the soil to food as early as the 4th century so here we are 17 short centuries later and our knowledge is still ever evolving with the advent of new technology.

It wasn’t till about 200 years ago when Soil Science became a True Science. Moving from the philosophy that there is a connection between plants and soil to discovering chemical extractions that mimic crop uptake and nutrient release, to building recommendations through correlation and calibration research.  Since then the science has evolved through improvements in methodology, and the advancements in technology, bringing us to Modern Soil Science. So if you’re asking yourself “What does this history lesson have to do with agronomy, or my operation?” here is the point through the course of all of that has been and evolving art form when it comes to creating prescriptions.

Much like art has basic elements so do your prescriptions that are created by your Central Valley Ag Advance Cropping Systems Specialist, and those basic elements are potential yield, crop removal, and soil test values. When properly crafted and honed with experience and knowledge of your operation these elements bring Soil Science to life as an art. I believe deep down that is our understanding of those basic elements that set us apart from others in our industry.

Potential Yield – Your ACS Specialist can take your historical yield data and make a normalized yield map which gives a historical and Geospatial perspective of your field. This ability to see what departure from the mean is in your field is critical information on how we formulate your potential and realistic yield goals for your upcoming crop year.

Crop Removal Once we decide what those historical departures from the mean are and what your realistic yield goals are we can apply appropriate crop removal rates to those yields to understanding what the crop need is going to be. Your ACS Specialist also has a great knowledge of the hierarchy of nutrients to keep you from chasing problems that aren’t your greatest limiting factor according to the Law of Minimum.

Soil Test Levels This the Bench Science that has been developing and mastered of the past century or so, which in general we leave up to the professionals at soils labs when it comes to the extractions. That being said how soil tests are correlated and calibrated has been done by our local Land Grant Universities but has been adjusted by us to reflect advancements in genetic performance and agronomic practices that have raised your yields over time. This is where the relationship between you and your ACS Specialist has paid off the most allowing us to understand the specifics to your region of Central Valley Ag.

Much like an actor uses the Basic Elements of acting to take words from a script and creates a character with enough depth that we connect and empathize with them on while watch our favorite TV show or movie. Your ACS specialist uses our Basic Elements to craft a fertilizer prescription that brings science to life and makes it applicable and real.  This comes through thousands of hours of training, experimenting, crafting and learning to make sure every prescription is exactly what it needs to be a which is the moment where art and science are the same things.