Soil testing is a fundamental step to building long term soil heath by providing the basic information about nutrient levels in your soil so as to provide nutrient management requirements. The quantity of available nutrients in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer that is recommended. A soil test will also measures soil pH, organic matter, and total exchange capacity.
Information from the soil test can then be used to determine the amount of nutrients available for your plants, the amount of fertilizer required, and the lime needed to maximize both the quality and quantity of crops. By taking the guess work out of amount of fertilizer you apply you can save money by not over applying. And, you get the environmental benefit of preventing nutrient runoff into surface or ground water.
Good results require that the sample is being taken at the right time – and in the right way. Take a sample a few months before you plan to plant, this will allow ample time to apply lime and have it adjust the soil pH. Early to late fall are ideal times to take a samples, this will provide you with the best information to base your nutrient recommendations on. For accurate results do not take samples from areas recently limed or fertilized, delay sampling at least six to eight weeks. Be sure you are sampling to the proper depth, and always use clean equipment to avoid inadvertent contamination.
Taking a soil sample for the test is a simple process; please review the Cooperative Extension Service publication Soil Sampling
When taking samples it is important to sample each unique area separately. When considering how to divide your fields consider changes in topography, varying vegetation patterns, and historic uses. Upon request Homer District staff can assist you in the sampling process. Call our office to schedule an appointment.