Eight reasons to test your soil
BY JERRY LITTLE
Soil testing can tell you many things about your soil that can help you make informed decisions about fertilizer application, site selection for crops and so much more. It is an essential part of a successful agriculture or horticulture enterprise. Home gardens and lawns can also greatly benefit from soil testing.
With the wet pattern Kentucky has been in over the past year, soil testing is paramount to having a quality hay supply for next winter.
There’s really no reason not to test your soil since your local office of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service makes it simple. So, let’s get to it. Why should you test your soil?
1. Know the pH level of your soil. Soil experts will make different recommendations depending on the acidity or alkalinity of your soil and your intended use.
2. Save time and money. Having the proper levels of soil nutrients will help maximize economic yields. Soil testing also reduces the chance of overapplying and over purchasing fertilizers.
3. It’s good for the environment. Soil testing results in a more accurate application of fertilizers and that ultimately reduces runoff into waterways.
4. They are not expensive. Each county office may charge a nominal fee to cover soil analysis costs, but most counties like Boyle are free.
5. It is easy. Taking samples doesn’t take a lot of time or skill, and your county agents can help you along the way.
6. Find out the fertility level of the soil. You gain knowledge about the soil condition and can make informed decisions about how to improve it.
7. Follow soil changes over time. Follow how conditions like drought, prolonged wet periods and other weather scenarios affect the soil.
8. Identify problem areas in your field or garden.
You’ll need to take different samples for various land uses such as agricultural, fields, lawns, gardens, fruit trees, shrubs and flowers because they all have distinct fertility and pH requirements.
Jerry Little is the county extension agent for Agriculture/Natural Resources.
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