Time Keeps on Slippin'. . . Soil Sampling Shouldn't

tractor and combine

Just like your last visit to the doctor or dentist, your farm's last soil samples may have been taken further back than you recall. Time slips away between planting and harvest year after year, and it may be time for another check of the soil.

Check your records. Soil sampling should be done every two to four years, and with the good crops this year, according to Ron Paulson, Federated agronomist at the Isanti location, it's even more important because a good crop significantly depletes the nutrients in the soil.

The growers who sampled and adjusted fertilizer applications this past spring saw their crops make it to the end, Paulson observed. The ones who fertilized for a "normal" year -- with or without samples to go by -- saw nitrogen deficiencies and other fertility issues as the season progressed, thanks to consistent rainfall.

"You don't want to fertilize for a poor crop," said Paulson. Soil sampling gives growers the information they need to affect fertility and produce a good crop.

Fall is a good time to sample, and being consistent -- as opposed to switching between spring and fall sampling -- produces the best results, Paulson suggested.

Whether it's composite sampling or grid sampling (for variable rate application), knowing what's going on across a farm, and not just in the problem areas, makes it possible to restore or maintain nutrients with effective fertilizer application.

Contact your Federated Agronomist with any questions about soil sampling or soil fertility. And if you plan to use VRT this year, schedule grid sampling soon.