Soil Health Specialist
Matt Fryer is a soil health specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. Prior to this role, Matt worked as a county extension agent with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Matt earned his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas State University in agricultural business and a master’s from the University of Arkansas in soil fertility.
Why are healthy soils important to producers in Arkansas?
Healthy soils are important to producers in Arkansas because the principals of soil health simultaneously work to better manage soil physical properties, weed populations, and potential disease pressures. Managing for soil health is a way to implement many, if not all, of the agronomic principles in these management areas on a large scale.
What’s the key to improving soil health in cotton systems?
The key to improving soil health in Arkansas, as well as a hurdle that producers interested in improving their soils must overcome, is the mindset that “the way we’ve always done things is the only way we can make things work.” This mindset is understandable considering most, if not all, producers have been farming for quite some time. They have made it through tough times and are still afloat, so it is difficult to shift this thinking style.
What is lacking in getting producers to adopt soil health improving practices?
Farmers have their livelihoods and millions of dollars on the line, so doing things differently can seem like they are putting themselves at risk. To that, I’d advise implementing soil health practices on a small field over a 3-year period to see the benefits. We’ve got to start somewhere.