Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Soil Sampling

This morning on Crop Talk I saw a farmer asked if farmers take their own soil samples. Some do, some do not.

Soil sampling is the basis of my soil fertility and soil amendment program.

My new farm came back around 6.0 water pH which is very reliable and repeatable and the buffer pH came back at 6.7 which is good for me. That means it takes less ground agricultural limestone to raise my pH to my desired level.

I have chosen one lab to do all my nutrient extraction from my soil samples and that is Midwest Lab in Omaha, Nebraska. I do work with others though. There are many good, reliable and certified soil test labs on our continent.

I use their complete test and pay extra for their recommendations which are invaluable to me. The data I get back is very close to the data I got from Ohio State's OARDC Lab before they closed it in the 90's.

Farmers really ought to pull their own samples to see what they are dealing with. My soils keep getting easier and easier to probe from my soil management practices and crop rotations.

The samples ought to be pulled every 3 years in a 3 year rotation and more often if it is a new farm to you. The samples ought to be pulled from the same areas each year to compare data so GPS would really help mark the spot but you can do it with flags and markers.

As John Haggard points out, the probe ought to be cleaned between every sample and the soil handled and mixed carefully before sending it to your lab. It is a tedious process but the better the sampling, the better the data and the better the results.

Hope you are safe in this record winter storm.

Ed Winkle

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