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One of the most powerful tools a farmer has isn’t actually a tool at all. It’s the data gained from soil testing. The vast amount of information soil tests provide allows farmers to see the true potential of their fields.
“When I soil test, I am really looking at a roadmap, and it’s a roadmap from where I have been to where I want to go,” says Illinois farmer Robert Hunter.
Not sampling could cost farmers tremendous yield and limits the quality of fertility recommendations. Yet, according to a 2015 best management practices survey conducted by the soy checkoff, only 45 percent of soybean farmers say that they soil test a majority of their acres.
In this video, farmers and soil specialists explain the true – and affordable – value of regular soil testing.
Know How to Use Your Soil Test Results
Soil sampling is the first step in your nutrient management plan, but it takes more than just sampling your fields to build the plan for your farm.
“If you’ve had a piece of land for a long time, you’ve got a history every time you sample,” says John Watkins, vice president and sales manager of Van Horn, Inc. in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. ”You’re sampling in the exact same spot every time. So what we’re doing is we’re tracking those exact same areas and looking for trends.”
Nutrient management isn’t a one-season process. It takes time to make fertility adjustments to your soil. When reading your soil test results, it’s important to compare this year’s results with results from past soil tests. Keep track of how your nutrient levels and soil pH change over time to determine how effective your nutrient applications are for your crop and whether you have an opportunity to reduce costs by applying nutrients more accurately.
Not sure what you should be looking for in your soil test results? This video walks you through what information you need from your soil test results to maximize the fertility of your soil.
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