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Soil Sampling Procedure

Why is it good to take soil samples?

  • Nutrient amounts in the soil matches plant needs.
  • Future nutrient applications match and do not exceed the needs of the plants.
  • Monitor and correct soil acidity levels (pH) to ensure nutrient uptake.

When to collect a soil sample: Fall

  • Lab results and nutrient recommendations may be returned more quickly because fewer samples are submitted.
  • Allows you to apply the fertilizer when prices are generally lower.
  • A field should always be resampled at the same time of the year so you can make historical comparisons.

Tools needed:

  • Soil Probe or trowel
  • Plastic Bucket
  • Soil Sample Kit

How to sample:

  • An individual sample should represent no more than 10 acres.
  • Larger pasture of 15 acres, collect samples in a “W” shape/pattern.
  • Considerations for sampling specific areas:
    • Past management
    • Cropping history
    • Individually sample areas that have received different management or vary in soil type, have suffered erosion or that are different in topography.
  • Collect at least 20 soil cores for small areas and up to 30 cores for larger fields.
  • Depth
    • Forages on average will utilize the first four (4) to six (6) inches of depth in our soil
    • Take a core sample that is comprised of equal amounts of soil from zero (0) to six (6) inches in depth.
  • Randomly take the soil cores throughout the sampling area and place them in a plastic bucket.

Image result for soil samples

DON’T sample:

  • Dung piles
  • Old fencerows or under trees
  • Areas used for manure or hay storage
  • Livestock feeding areas where lime was previously stockpiled

Submitting a sample:

  • Mix your cores together and remove all plant material and stones.
  • Collect about a quart bag of soil and let it dry off completely.
  • Fill in your information on the bag BEFORE putting the soil in it.
  • Match the information on your bag and the submittal form.

Soil Test Results and Interpretations:

  • Soil acidity ( pH)
  • Nutrient levels
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)
  • Magnesium (Mg)
  • Calcium (Ca)
  • Lime and Fertilizer Recommendations

 

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