Good Soil Testing Is An Important Part of Your Pasture Management

If you're looking at your pastures and thinking they're missing something. The first place you might start is with a soil test. It can tell you if the pH is off - so your forage isn't doing as well as it could, or if you actually need to add a little fertilizer. This article by the Noble Foundation's Eddie Funderburg from our August 2016 edition gives you some tips to make sure your soil samples are good. And at the end, we've linked to another article that will help you take the drudgery out of soil testing. Enjoy! A routine call we get involves a person who takes a soil sample this year and submits it for analysis. The data do not match the results of the last sample that was taken from the field three years ago. The logical question is, "why?" The usual reason is that soils vary in pH and nutrient content across the field, so the results will be different if subsamples were taken from different parts of the field in each sample. However, there are other possible reasons, and those are the ones I want to analyze in this article. The depth at which the samples are taken is critical. Soil labs assume the sample is taken from a depth of 0 to 6 inches unless they are told otherwise. Sometimes, real-world samples are not taken from a 0- to 6-inch depth. We primarily work in pasture and hayfield settings. When the soil is dry, it is difficult to get a probe in the ground deeper than 2 inches without breaking or bending it. If the soil is wet, we may go considerab

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