Soil test, don’t guess

Farm Forum

Now is a good time to get soil testing starting to help plan next years’ fertilizer program. With high nitrogen prices and high phosphorus potassium prices, knowing what you need has never been so important.

If you haven’t tested your soil recently, or if you are planning on planting corn or small grains, knowing your nutrient levels in the soils is very important. Soil testing is cheap to have done, and taking soil samples is easy. If you don’t have time to soil test yourself there are several companies and consultants that can provide the services. If you hire, make sure tests for nitrogen are taken to two feet.

There are a few tips on taking soil samples you can make this procedure as easy as possible. It is a lot easier and faster to take soil samples before fall tillage is done to the field. Secondly, always take soil samples to a depth of two feet for nitrogen and sulfur tests. However, keep the soil from the top six inches in another container. All other soil tests are done on soil from the top six inches. Third, after the soil samples are taken, they should be air dried or frozen. If they are going to be shipped for analysis the preferred method is to air dry the samples before the shipment. If the samples are wet and not frozen, and put into the bag, the nitrogen reading may not be accurate. With the current high price of fertilizer, soil sampling may save money and insure that the next crop will get the proper nutrients without putting out too much.