In agriculture, depending on your soil’s innate fertility and what you grow, your plants might perform for years without needing additional fertilizer. However, eventually, these nutrients deplete and although your plants won’t scream when they are hungry, they will eventually show their unhappiness by displaying stunted growth and various other indications like off-colour leaves.
Performing a regular soil test will allow you to catch nutrient deficiencies before they progress to extreme conditions. Besides this, a soil test can also give you information on soil acidity, the percentage of organic matter in your soil, and your soil’s texture. However, it will not tell you anything about poor soil drainage, insufficient light or insects and diseases. Thus, one needs to rule these options out at first before moving to a soil test.
A vast variety of knowledge is gained in ensuring that you have the correct soil chemistry present. The word pH is a scientific abbreviation for the ‘potential of hydrogen’, which is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. PH plays an important part in the solubility of nutrients and minerals in the soil. Most nutrients are readily found in the soil provided it is at a pH level between 6-6.5. The soil pH will change over time from raining that strip away basic ions such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium. In addition, root respiration will have an effect over time on the soil pH.
Performing Soil Test
Performing a soil test can help take the assumption out of setting any of these nutrient issues. This will also aid you in the prevention of spending money on fertilizers that are unnecessary. With a soil test, you will have other means for creating a healthy environment that will lead to maximum plant growth.
Testing in soil lab is inexpensive when compared to investments in your plants, amendments, time and efforts. The soil lab also provides you with a fertilizer guideline based on the results of your soil test. Including pH, a soil test will also assess the present levels of major plant nutrients, micronutrients, and an estimate of total soil lead for detecting toxicity. The recommendations provided will include the amounts of limestones and fertilizer necessary to meet the requirements of the specific plant or crop being grown.
Sampling is also important for a soil test. Soil samples can be taken at any time of the year. Normally, you get a soil test done annually. While many companies offer soil-testing kits, you can usually get a soil test done for free or at a low cost at your local soil lab. When soil testing is performed by commercial labs, they offer a variety of tests, targeting groups of compounds and minerals.
The benefit associated with this is that the technicians are familiar with the chemistry of the soil, enabling them to recommend a test that is most likely to disclose useful information. To the contrary, the DIY kits only test for three major nutrients and soil pH level. Also, the lab tests are more accurate and include a professional interpretation of results and recommendations.
The process of taking a soil sample is simple but important to correctly receive the results. Remember to avoid taking a soil sample if the soil is wet or has been recently fertilized. It is important that the samples are collected from the entire property at roughly six-inch soil depth to get a general reading of what is occurring in your soil.
Conclusively, for the small cost of a soil test, it provides a wealth of information to get your outdoor living space adjusted to its highest potential.