Using Soil Sampling Results To Improve Your Next Crop

soil sampling


We recently discussed the importance of soil sampling and what growers learn from testing samples from their field. Now we want to look more at what the results can tell the grower and how it can help them improve their next crop.

As growers receive information regarding organic matter, soil pH, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), Nitrate-N and extractable macro and micro nutrients from their soil sample results, they will be able to make more informed fertility decisions, and address potential issues in advance or during the early stages of the plant’s growth cycle.

The results also provide a holistic view of the health of the soil, and can help provide growers with an indication of success for their fertility philosophy by determining if the following are needed:

  • Building nutrient levels
  • Maintaining nutrient levels
  • Reducing of specific mineral levels

Growers will be able to use their soil test results to help specify what nutrients and in what levels they are needed to help the grower achieve their desired yield levels. This is particularly important with micronutrients, as it may be in the best interest economically to use a dry granular product versus a liquid product.

In addition to providing important results, soil samples can also provide counsel and fertility recommendations based on yield goals set against the soil health generated from the lab.

Soil Sampling as a Best Practice

Over the years, soil sampling has become a best practice. Most growers, depending on their fields and farm management practices, conduct soil samples every two-to-four years. For growers who are new to the soil sampling process, the following advice is helpful to consider when conducting soil samples.

First, growers should consider their fertility philosophy for their fields and use the soil samples to help determine if they will be able to successfully achieve their maximum economic yield (MEY).

In addition, it is recommended that once a grower finds a suitable lab, they should stick with them, to ensure their samples are tested consistently, year after year and avoid fluctuating numbers due to testing procedures.

Once the samples are collected and tested, growers should…

  • Always verify the sample results match the records for the respective field that they were submitted for.
  • Look over each sample for any glaring deficiencies or abundance of nutrients. This may indicate a potential sampling error for that field.
    • If this occurs, the grower should consider resampling the field.
  • Compare current sample results to previous test results, when possible and look for trends in nutrient removal, deficiencies or increases.
  • Work with a trusted agronomist to implement an appropriate fertility plan to help them achieve their yield goals.

For additional questions regarding the soil sampling process, benefits and more on interpreting your individual results, visit with your agronomist at your local retailer.

Original Source: Leaders of In-Furrow Technology, West Central

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