Soil Sampling: Management Tactic Helps Farmers Determine Nutrient Needs

Clint Thompson soil fertility

Photo by Mike Riffle/Shows how to take a sample of your soil.

The 2021 planting season is just around the corner for Southeast producers. It is the ideal time for farmers to sample their soils and determine what nutrients need to be applied, said Mike Riffle, Senior Manager, Field Development at Valent U.S.A. LLC.

Mike Riffle

“I think any grower, no matter what they’re growing, should be doing soil testing, probably yearly. Now is the perfect time because you can take a soil sample now and understand what kind of fertility may be required going into the season,” Riffle said. “Now is a good time to sample.”

If producers don’t have the appropriate amount of a specific nutrient, such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium or magnesium, they could lose yields for whatever crop they’re trying to produce.

“It is one of the main reasons to test your soil for sure, to gauge what kind of fertility you will need going into the season. That’s one of the main reasons to test soils for sure,” Riffle said. “If their pH is rising or lowering over time, it’s good to know that. That could affect fertility. There’s lots of things they can learn about their soils from these soil sampling events.”

Other Benefits

Riffle said soil sampling lets producers not only determine what fertility issues need to be addressed before plants are put in the ground, it also allows for farmers gauge the health of their soils. What are the bacteria and fungi that are present that should cause concern for growers?

Previously, farmers could get a soil sample and send to the lab to determine pH and nutrients. Other sample tests are now available that would look at soil health with respect to presence of fungi and bacteria.

Riffle recommends sending samples to Ward Laboratories. Their website is easily accessible and can help farmers navigate through the soil sampling process.

He also recommends university Extension systems wherever you are located. Just call your county agent for additional assistance.

About the Author
Clint Thompson

Clint Thompson

Multimedia Journalist for AgNet Media Inc.