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Monday
Jan132014

Soil Testing—what is it all about?

Have you ever had your soil tested?  Should you?  Here are some good reasons why you should have a soil test performed.
1. Soil testing is an important diagnostic tool to evaluate nutrient imbalances and understand plant growth.   
2. Testing the soil provides a basis for intelligent application of fertilizer and lime. 
3. Testing also allows for growers and homeowners to maintain a soil pH in the optimum range (6.0-7.0), which keeps nutrients more available to the plant for growth. 
4. Protection of our environment for we cannot afford to pollute our surface and ground waters by indiscriminate application of phosphorous or nitrogen fertilizers, for example. 
5. Cost savings - Why apply what you don't need? Soil test results provide information about the soil's ability to supply nutrients to plants for adequate growth, and are the basis of deciding how much lime and fertilizer are needed.

When do I soil test?  Sampling can be done at any time, but late October or early November is usually preferable. Avoid sampling when the soil is very wet or recently limed or fertilized.

What tests are performed? The basic soil test results will tell you the pH of the soil, organic matter (nutrient holding capacity), available phosphorous (P), and available potassium (K).  The soil may also be tested for Nitrate (N), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), boron (B), manganese (Mn) and zinc (Zn).  

Who takes the soil samples?  Your local County Extension offices can instruct you on how to take samples yourself.  There are businesses that you can contact that will obtain the sample for you, one such group is your local Farmer’s Coop.

The Upper Loup Natural Resources District (ULNRD) understands the importance of soil testing and has a cost-share program to help land owners defray part of the costs associated with testing.  For more information or to obtain a cost-share application you can contact our office at 308-645-2250.

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