Tag: soil testing

Soil tests are performed for agriculture, home, lawn and garden, and commercial horticulture. Soil testing is not like having your cholesterol level checked. Soil testing is not as precise and there are different methods being used to determine nutrient levels in soils. Soil labs test thousands of samples each year to aid farmers and homeowners in determining their fertilizer needs.

Tests at the lab are performed on media utilized for plant growth operations such as soils, water for tobacco float-beds, greenhouse media, and animal waste. Chemical analyses and recommendations from the labs are made specifically for your region.

Labs perform the routine soil tests (pH, Buffer pH, P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn) and non-routine tests which include boron, organic matter, pH and nutrients in greenhouse media, pH and nutrients in water used for irrigation and nutrient solution purposes, nutrients in animal waste used for land application, and potential acidity in mine spoil.

Gardeners who may be comparing last year’s test results to this year need to be aware that different labs use different testing methods as well as different units. Some labs list levels in pounds per acre while other results may be listed in parts per million. So, gardeners need to make sure they are comparing similar testing methods from one year to the next, wherever the testing is done.

Fall is a good time to sample soils to determine soil nutrient needs for the coming year’s crops. Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) can be fall-applied leaving one less thing to do during the busy spring. Fall testing is especially important for lime application. It takes as much as six months for lime to provide the maximum benefit after being applied.

The next time you reach down and pick up a handful of soil, think about this soil fact: A single teaspoonful of good soil can contain as many as 4,000,000,000 bacteria; 40 to 100 meters of mold filament of fungi; 144,000,000 actinomycetes, plus other assorted living things that grow, consume, excrete waste, reproduce, and die.

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