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Should We Test Soils For Molybdenum, Cobalt, and Selenium?

By   /  January 19, 2015  /  2 Comments

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From time to time I get questions from farmers asking how they can have their soil samples tested fo
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About the author

Mark is the Soils Agronomist for Organic Valley and CROPP Cooperative. He has spent most of his life working in agriculture. After serving in the Marine Corps, Mark attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he earned a Bachelor of Science in soil science and a minor in agronomy. He worked two years as a soil scientist with the Soil Conservation Service and then attended graduate school at UW-Madison where he completed a master’s degree in soil science. Mark worked for over 24 years an agriculture agent for UW-Extension providing education to farmers throughout Wisconsin, focusing on crop and soil management. In 2012, he accepted his current position, where he helps cooperative members and others to improve their crop and soil management skills. He and his family have operated a small grass based dairy farm in northern Wisconsin for over 20 years and have been members of Organic Valley since 2007.

2 Comments

  1. Sharon says:

    It is my understanding that selenium enriched fertilizer is only available in Oregon. I lost many lambs last lambing season, and some in years before when I did not know what the problem was. We need to have this available. Boluses are available in California for cows but not sheep.

  2. Gene Schriefer says:

    Great information Mark on using tissue tests for micronutrient analysis and confirming deficiency issues.

    Somewhere around 95% of plant material is Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen, which plants capture from the soil and atmosphere.

    Roughly 5% is Nitrogen (N), Phophorous (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulfur (S)

    The “micro-nutrients” in sum comprise about 0.025% of the plant tissue. Boron (B), Chlorine (Cl), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni) and Zinc (Zn).

    Micro’s are essential, but in very minute amounts, and often are not a limiting factor. Soil tests are most useful for N-P-K maybe S. Most pasture fertility programs should focus initially on the macro nutrients.

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