The Value of Soil Testing
As the cropping season comes to an end, it is right to look back and give kudos to every partner who worked hard these past months to ensure we continue to produce high-quality food and feed; every partner – from the resilient farmer and his patient family to the persistent input supplier and the meticulous agronomist. But perhaps in the community of farming partners, none worked harder than the ground on which our crops grew. The soil held, supplied, and recycled nutrients for plant growth, detoxified pollutants, retained water for use during the drier periods, and served as a firm structure for cropping and other agricultural activities. So, as we take stock and prepare for the next cropping season, finding out the current condition of this priceless partner is of utmost importance.
During a cropping season, several processes impact the soil nutrient status. These include crop nutrient uptake, run-off, and leaching. Over time, the soil nutrient reserve becomes depleted and will need to be replenished. Soil testing provides a way of knowing the level of this nutrient reserve as well as other soil properties affecting how nutrients are released. It is a tool that helps match fertilizer application to the needs of the crop while avoiding wastage and possible contamination of the environment.
When To Do A Soil Test
Although soil testing just before spring seeding may provide results most closely related to conditions during seeding, fall is a great time for the activity. Soil testing in the fall allows ample time to sample soils, analyze them, examine the data, and make fertilizer plans. Besides, in late fall when soil temperature has dropped to below 10 ⁰C, soil microbial activity has slowed down, so there will be minimal change in nutrient levels between fall and the next spring. Soil testing can also be done anytime during the growing season to determine and correct nutrient deficiencies.
Without data you will have to guess your way through the growing season, and you will either be lucky or wrong. Soil testing can help you take the guesswork out of your fertilizer plans. With the advancement of technology, soil testing is becoming easier, faster, and more accurate. This is what we provide in our soil testing laboratory. Our agronomists combine soil test results with their expertise and local knowledge to design a prescriptive fertilizer plan to increase the probability of achieving high-quality and high-yielding crops.
At SynergyAG we treat soil as more than ‘dirt’, we recognize and respect that soil sustains life. Talk to your SynergyAG team about your soil testing needs.
-Ikenna Mbakwe, PhD, PAg
Director of Research
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