12/4/17: Soil Sample Considerations

Being prepared involves regular soil testing, which is one of the best tools you can use for determining which nutrients are present and how much will be available to your crop.  Soil testing can predict which nutrients and how much needs to be added for plants to reach their yield potential.  Decades of improving lab chemistry techniques and extensive field calibration provide a measure of confidence in knowing what is happening in the soil.  Nevertheless, there are several things worth considering before samples are sent to the lab and after results are returned.

  1. Do my soil samples adequately represent my fields?

Getting a good soil analysis is totally dependent on submitting a representative sample.  Considering that the rooting zone of an acre consists of well over 1000 tons of soil and that the laboratory will only analyze a tablespoon of soil, the importance of Smith Fertilizer and Grain agronomist getting a representative sample is obvious.  A soil analysis can only be as good as the sample that was sent to the lab. 

  1. Why do I often need to add more nutrients than I harvest in crops?

Whenever crops are removed from the field during harvest, the nutrients in the harvested portion of the plants are also removed, thus leaving the soil a bit more depleted than before.  Replacing these harvested nutrients is a bare minimum for maintaining soil fertility levels.  However, due to a variety of chemical and biological reactions that make many nutrients less available to the plant, the addition of more nutrients is usually required than just eh amount harvested.  Failure to replenish the soil supply of nutrients will result in a gradual depletion of soil fertility and can ultimately lead to diminished crop yield and quality.

  1. What is the right amount of Fertilizer to add?

Consider the value of the crop and compare the costs of potential yield loss with the expenses associated with fertilization.  The most appropriate approach will vary from farm to farm, thus the final decision is best made between you and your trusted Smith Fertilizer and Grain agronomist.

Once a representative soil sample has been properly analyzed, there are still many specific decisions concerning matters such as placement, source, and timing that must be made in order to use nutrients to their full advantage.  Now is the time to make these decisions and prepare for the coming year.

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