August means it's almost time for fall soil testing!
We like to remind our customers of the importance of soil testing in the fall. Whether you're a backyard gardener or you have acres of field crops, soil testing is the key to figuring out what amendments you need to put down to grow successful harvests. Here are some key things to remember when pulling your samples:
Fertrell suggests fall sampling.
-Mostly because of time; spring is busy and you don't often get a lot of time for planning and ordering
-Sample 1/3 of your fields every year- Samples are generally considered accurate for 3 years so this timeframe works well
-Don't specifically test bad areas or good areas unless you are trying to determine what to do in one particular area
-Extension soil tests generally don't give you organic matter or any of your nutrient breakdowns. For an $8.00 savings, you're getting rid of 3/4 of the test. Make sure you're sending your samples to a lab that will give us a full soil breakdown. We recommend Waypoint Labs (was Agri-Analysis) in Leola, PA.
Proper Sampling Techniques:
-Always use a clean soil probe and a clean plastic bucket
-Typical sample depth is 6-8 inches for field crops or trees
-Pull 8-12 cores/sample; depending on the size of the field, you may need more cores per sample
-Place soil cores in the bucket
-Once all the cores are pulled, mix them together in the bucket (not with your hands- the oils can skew test results!)
-Don't pull out rocks, etc. unless they're really large
-Always remember to pull a little more than you need! Labs generally hold samples for a few weeks and can re-test if you think there's been an error
Ready to submit a sample?
Make sure to label both your bag and your submittal form with your info: Name, Address, Phone, Field ID, Previous/Next crop, and Fertrell (if you want us to interpret your results for you at no charge). Use this form if you'd like to send your samples to Waypoint. We will interpret any labs tests as long as we have the above information though!
Download the Waypoint Submittal Form here.
In subsequent blog posts I'll dive more in-depth about reading soil tests, what I look for with specific crops and in gardens, and how you can make sure you're setting yourself up for successful plant harvests in the future! Have questions on soil testing? Comment them below!