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Benefits of testing your soil

By Sarah Ransom
UT/TSU Extension Office
[email protected]

Everyone works hard to stretch their finances as far as they can go and to get the most bang for their buck. When it comes to farming, saving money is no exception. One of the best ways to do this is by providing the best possible soil for your crops. If you struggle with poor plant growth, a lack of response to fertilizers, unmanageable weeds, and poor quality forages, irregular plant growth in your fields, or nutrient deficiencies in your crops – testing your soil may be the only thing you need. The Natural Resource Conservation Services states that testing your soil can result in helping determine the nutrient and pH levels in your land, potentially increase the yield from your crop, help with higher quality and help you make more informed decisions on what fertilizers and how much to use on your crops.

When producers follow soil test recommendations, there can be more balanced soil for better crops. Getting a soil test done should be a first step to planning your crops. Testing your soil removes the guesswork from knowing what you need to apply to fertilize correctly. Your information sheet, soil sampling boxes, and instructions can be gotten at your local UT/TSU Extension office, which is located at 212 College Street. When testing soil, remember that your test results are only as good as the quality of the sample collected. Soil tests can be conducted at any time of year; fall is a great time due to giving more preparation time for your upcoming crop season.

Fields are often drier and more accessible during the fall months. Soil samples should be conducted on a frequency based on the crop being planted there. Typically, most crops need their soil tested every two years; however, some crops need annual testing or can go as long as three to five years between soil tests. Check with your Extension agent for determining the frequency of your soil needs.

Sources – Soil Testing, by Hubert J. Savoy, University of Tennessee Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science.