A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK’s Fragipan Field Day on Oct. 3 to highlight research breakthrough in crop production

By Katie Pratt
University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky soil scientists will host a Fragipan Field Day to present a significant research breakthrough in crop production. The field day is from 8 a.m. until noon CDT Oct. 3 at the UK Research and Education Center’s Farm in Princeton.

Soil fragipans, like the one pictured here, reduce crop yields. UK soil scientists have found that annual ryegrass can break down the frangipani. (Photo courtesy of Lloyd Murdock, UK soil scientist)

The UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment research team led by soil scientist Lloyd Murdock has discovered that annual ryegrass will successfully break down soil fragipan over time. Fragipan is a hard, impervious layer found in some soils. It creates shallow soils with limited yield potential due to low water-holding capacity. The soils tend to dry out during the summer and have too much water in the winter.

Soil fragipans exist in 50 million acres across the United States including 2.7 million acres in Kentucky.

“After 45 years of working with these subpar soils, it’s exciting to know we can improve them,” Murdock said. “I’m really proud of this research project and excited to be a part of it.”

The group, which also includes UK soil scientists John Grove, Tasios Karathanasis and Chris Matocha, has worked toward a solution for the past five years.

During the field day, UK soil scientists will discuss their laboratory and field discoveries. Participants will also get to hear from Ralph “Junior” Upton, an Illinois farmer who has used annual ryegrass on fragipan soils on his farm for 17 years. UK and conservation specialists will also discuss the economics of breaking down the fragipan, rooting patterns and growth of annual ryegrass, and annual ryegrass’ potential as a cover crop or forage.

Certified Crop Advisers can receive continuing education units for this field day including two in soil and water, one in crop management and 0.5 in pest management.

The UK Research and Education Center is located at 1205 Hopkinsville Street in Princeton. Signs to the field day location will be posted at the entrance to the farm.

Katie Pratt writes for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment

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