Soil Sampling

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Soil testing seems straight forward but there are a few techniques to ensure you are getting good accurate results to make soil management decisions. Soil testing accuracy is becoming increasingly important with trends toward reduced/no-till and increased use of variable rate fertilization. The preferred method of soil testing is Grid Soil Sampling. To begin, divide the field into sections. The size of each section should be 2.5 to 5 acres depending on past fertilization, soil amendment placement, cropping patterns, soil type, old field boundaries (such as old homes, feedlots or fences) , yield data maps and tillage practices. The goal is to group like soils together. The depth of the sample should be 0 to 6 inches. When collecting soil cores, discard any organic matter (i.e. crop residue) found at the top of the sample. Each section within the grid should have 8-10 cores within a 10-foot radius compiled to make one sample. Use GPS to mark the specific point within the section where the samples are taken. Consistency is key when soil testing from year to year – try to sample from the same area and at the same time of year. Soil pH and potassium are known to vary throughout the seasons.

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Article courtesy of Randy Dowdy of Dowdy Farms, www.growbigcorn.com

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