If your pasture production is declining, one of the first steps to take to help solve this problem is collecting a soil sample. The information you gain from this analysis can be used to make necessary adjustments to help you achieve your goal. Following the steps below, you can collect a representative sample to sent to the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Lab. Once processed, you can receive guidance related to nutrient needs such as pH, phosphorus (P2O5), potassium (K2O), magnesium and calcium levels as well as information on lime and fertilizer recommendations. This information can be used to improve overall pasture performance by applying the right amount of each year. This data will help you to apply only what is needed in your pastures.
What do you need to do to take a soil test?
The following are a few simple steps you can take to collect a uniformed sample from your pasture and have it sent in for analysis.
- Obtain sampling bags from the Extension Office.
- Determine the area to take a representative sample.
- Do not collect samples from wet spots, fence rows, feeding areas etc. The sample you collect should be the average of the field.
- Use a soil test probe or shovel to take the sample.
- Take a core of soil 6 inches deep from at least 15 spots in each field.
- Mix together the cores from one field and let them dry for 2 to 4 hours.
- Once the sample has dried, remove any plant debris and place about 1 pint of the sample in the sampling bag.
- Identify the sample so you will know which field it was taken.
- Fill out the paperwork and include it and payment in the box with the sample. Routine soil test costs $10.00 per sample and takes about two weeks to process. (Bermudagrass pastures use: Producer Soil Test Form – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf%5CSS%5CSS18600.pdf ; Bahia grass pastures use: Nutrient Testing for Bahia Pastures Form – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf%5CSS%5CSS59700.pdf)
- Promptly send samples to the lab for analysis.
If you don’t have your soil tested, chances are you are spending more money than you should, not making as much as you could and are probably not maximizing your potential. Contact the St. Johns County Extension Office at (904) 209-0430 if you would like assistance interpreting test results or fertilization recommendations or visit the UF/IFAS Extension Soil Testing Lab.
(Source Adapted: Kidder and Rhue, UF/IFAS Extension)