It’s that time of year again when growers finish up their wheat harvest and begin thinking about what will be planted in that field next year. In order to prepare a successful crop plan, it is important to understand how much fertility is on your farm.
Soil is a living ecosystem, and is a farmer’s most precious asset. A farmer’s productive capacity is directly related to the health of his or her soil.
– Howard Warren Buffett
Soil sampling after wheat is a great way to identify nutrient levels and to make management decisions for next year. It also allows the time to make important fertility and prescription decisions from these test levels. Sampling the right areas come from properly collected yield data, NDVI imagery, bare ground images, and knowledge of the farmer.
Soil testing is an important tool for assessing soil fertility and to advise proper and responsible fertilizer recommendations. It’s also a valuable management aid for studying soil changes resulting from cropping practices and for diagnosing specific cropping problems.
Without a soil analysis, it’s nearly impossible to determine what a soil needs in order to be productive. Laboratory soil analyses (soil tests) provide information on your soil’s available nutrient-supplying capacity. This information helps you select the correct kind and amount of fertilizer and liming material, which helps you develop and maintain more productive soil and increased crop production.
Soil testing provides an index for the nutrient availability in soil and is a critical step in nutrient management planning. Soil sampling technique, timing of sampling and type of analysis need to be considered for accurate results. The biggest problem in the effective use of soil testing is proper and representative sampling. Proper soil sampling will provide accurate soil test results and reliable nutrient recommendation.
From coast to coast, county to county, field to field and even within a field, the pH and nutrient characteristics of our soils vary greatly. The ability of the soil to provide nutrition to a plant is critical to the overall health of a plant. When a soil is unable to provide nutrients in the proper amounts, it can lead to reduced plant vigor and increased susceptibility to damage from disease, insects, drought and other conditions. This ultimately causes yield loss and reduced net profit to our customers.
Routine soil testing is a great tool to help point out nutrient deficiencies and surpluses, soil pH, and Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC.) Understanding the test results allows for the selection of the appropriate fertilizer or amendments to help correct deficiencies and other problems to optimize the uptake of fertilizer nutrients by the plant. Optimum nutrient uptake is critical as lost fertilizer nutrients due to lack of uptake equates to lost dollars.
Why should a producer soil sample?
- Establish baseline soil nutrient status
- Measure change in soil nutrient status over time
- Document soil nutrient management for certification requirements
- Determine nutrient application recommendations
- Assess pH and the need for liming
- Avoid excessive nutrient applications or soluble salt accumulation
- Develop a plan for possible variable-rate fertilizing within a field
- To assist in developing an economic fertilizer strategy.
When should soil samples be taken?
The best time of year to soil sample is directly after the crop is removed. Since results can vary depending on the time of year, it is best to sample at the same time each year. Soil tests should be completed every 2-3 years for most crops. For crops grown on very sandy soils particularly if the crops remove large quantities of potassium such as corn silage and alfalfa, you should soil test every 1-2 years.
Thompsons soil sampling services
Thompsons has a complete and comprehensive set of soil sampling services to offer every farm operation. Contact one of our Agricultural Consultants today, or visit any Thompsons location.
- Intensive Zone Sampling (pdf)
- Site Specific