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Agronomy Talk

Missouri - David Hughes, CCA

Soil Testing Game Plan

Published on Sunday, September 20, 2015

As combines roll during harvest, be ready with a soil testing game-plan. Optimum crop nutrition requires an accurate inventory of the critical nutrients in your soil. Prioritize fields to include: newly acquired fields; fields that have not been soil tested within the past three years, and fields with observed nutrient deficiencies.

Intensive soil tests (grid- or management zone) can help you assess the soil pH and nutrient concentration variability. Historic and current yield data, in-season Crop Health Imaging™, recent soil nutrient maps and soil electrical conductivity data are excellent information layers for delineating new testing zones.

Whether conducting testing yourself or using a service provider, ensure that sufficient cores (8-12) are taken at each grid location or within each management zone to accurately reflect the soil area being represented. Also, ensure that soil probe depths are consistent. On zero-and reduced-tillage systems where fertilizers are broadcast-applied, take 0-2 inch depth samples at different landscape positions to compare with standard 0-7 inch samples. This allows you to assess soil nutrient stratification and pH variability by depth.

 Send soil samples to an accredited lab for analysis. When results are returned, I would be happy to help interpret your results and develop sound nutrient recommendations for your operation.

Author: David Hughes

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