Soil Testing Makes Sense — And Saves Dollars

Want to save on fertilizer? Run a soil test.

With fertilizer prices continuing their upward trend, a soil test is the best tool available to growers that can help them manage their crops while leaving more money in their pockets.

According to a USDA Economic Research Service report, less than 40 percent of corn acreage in the U.S. was soil tested in 2000 (the most recent data available) to make fertilizer management decisions. Robert Mullen, an Ohio State University Extension soil fertility specialist, speculates that number has increased, but those growers not utilizing soil testing are missing out on a huge money-saving opportunity, especially with today’s rising fertilizer prices.

There is value in the ability to measure the level of nutrients in the soil, such as soil pH, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, and from those numbers, make a more informed decision in fertilizer application that¹s good for the crops, as well as each grower-customer’s budget.

"You start by putting yourself in their shoes. I’m a producer. I get the soil analysis and I have this piece a paper. What matters on that sheet of paper and how do I use that information to make a decision?" advises Mullen.

"There is no cookie cutter recipe for fertility management because everyone has different soils and different cropping systems," he explains. "The idea is more of a case study approach. It’s to get them to think about the information in a different way and what they should go through when they start making decisions."

Mullen says that soil tests are an effective resource tool for fertility management because the analysis lets growers know which nutrients they need to invest in and which ones they can do without for a certain period of time.

Mullen points to phosphorus and potassium as an example. With both nutrients skyrocketing in price, a soil test would reveal how much potassium and phosphorus are currently available in the soil. Unlike nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are not directly related to yield, so once they are present at adequate concentrations adding more would not result in additional productivity.

"Once you reach a certain concentration of potassium or phosphorus in the field, you don’t need to add any more fertilizer, and a soil test would be able to tell you that," says Mullen. "Without it, you may be paying for something you do not need."
Other things growers can determine from a soil test include soil pH, which reveals whether or not lime is needed; buffer pH, which indicates how much lime should be applied; and the amount of fertilizer necessary based on specific cropping systems.

(Source: The Ohio State University)

 

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More
Eric SfiligojPinnacle’s Plans
December 8, 2014
At the annual Agricultural Retailers Association meeting, Pinnacle Ag outlined its plans for the marketplace, in 2015 and beyond. Read More
EquipmentAGCO Names Idaho Custom Applicator As 2014 Operator of the Year
December 4, 2014
Praised for his quality work and strong customer relationships, Idaho professional farm applicator Brent Klein has been named by AGCO Application Equipment as 2014 Operator of the Year. Read More

Top 100 Articles

CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
CropLife 100BRANDT, Verdesian Ink Distribution Agreement
December 9, 2014
The agreement grants BRANDT the exclusive right to sell and market Verdesian’s patented Steric chemistry in the Turf and Ornamental and eastern U.S. ag markets under the BRANDT Reaction product line name. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Colors Of Custom Application
December 5, 2014
Although many color spray rigs are in the yards of the nation’s top ag retailers, the majority of them still come in only a few shades. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Invests In Meridian Agriculture Distribution
December 4, 2014
Meridian will provide retailers with supplier-branded products and numerous opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: Entering A New Seed Era
December 4, 2014
The seed category has been re-vitalized during the past few years, and more good news (and varieties) are headed the industry’s way in 2015. Read More
CropLife 100CropLife 100: The Depressed State Of Fertilizer
December 3, 2014
Following downright giddy growth earlier this decade, fertilizer sales have fallen back down to earth the past two years. Read More

Latest News

Seed/BiotechReport: China Approves Viptera Corn, U.S. Officials Awa…
December 17, 2014
Chinese authorities have informed some agriculture industry officials the government has approved U.S. imports of a type of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta. Read More
FertilizerMonty’s Plant Food Brings In New Sales Rep
December 16, 2014
Monty's Plant Food Company has hired Warren Kearns as its newest Sales Representative for the South Carolina area. Read More
EquipmentHagie Wins 2014 CropLife IRON Product Of The Year Award
December 15, 2014
The self-propelled sprayer maker has a hit on its hands with the new STS Series model. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Sees China Approving Contentious GMO Corn Soon
December 15, 2014
Syngenta will make an announcement when it receives official documentation from China that Agrisure Viptera corn, known as MIR 162, has been cleared for import. Read More
Crop InputsVerdesian Life Sciences Names Vice President Of Communi…
December 15, 2014
Amy Bugg will oversee the execution of all promotional strategies for the corporate brand and the complete product portfolio. Read More
StewardshipFarmers, Retailers Attend 4R Certification 4U Workshop
December 15, 2014
More than 160 farmers and ag retailer attended the “4R Certification 4U” workshop December 12 to learn more about the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship, water quality research in the area and cost-sharing opportunities. Read More
Matt Hopkins10 Best New Agriculture Apps For 2015
December 15, 2014
These new agriculture apps are certain to help ag professionals do their jobs more efficiently in 2015 and beyond. Read More
ManagementARA Learnings, Retail Buying Intentions: Welcome To Cro…
December 12, 2014
This informal video program puts news and events effecting retailers into context, and features Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Herbicide-Tolerant Technology Closer To Commer…
December 12, 2014
The final EIS moves Monsanto one step closer to the introduction of Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton and Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, paving the way to provide access to dicamba-tolerant soybeans and cotton. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement On Her…
December 12, 2014
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a final environmental impact statement on varieties of cotton and soybeans that have been genetically engineered for resistance to several herbicides, including the one known as dicamba. Read More
CropLife 100CHS: Driving Momentum To Help Farmer-Owners Grow
December 11, 2014
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, must capture new opportunities to Read More
LegislationARA Applauds CFATS Passage Prior To Holiday Adjournment
December 11, 2014
The streamlined bill provides a four-year authorization of the CFATS program and guidance to DHS on key issues of chemical facility security Read More
Seed/BiotechBayer CropScience’s ILeVO Approved By EPA
December 11, 2014
EPA has approved ILeVO, the only seed treatment that protects the root system against infections caused by the Sudden Death Syndrome fungus and has activity against dangerous nematodes. Read More
Biologicals in Emerging Markets Map.
Crop InputsBiocontrols Could Quadruple By 2025; Will Regulators Pl…
December 11, 2014
The European experience with GMOs offers caution — and a promise — for biologicals. Read More
Crop InputsBASF Donates $75,000 To Feeding America
December 10, 2014
The donation will support Feeding America’s National Produce Program, an initiative that helps with planning, transportation and logistics to ensure fresh produce deliveries to the 200 member food banks around the country. Read More
InsecticidesHow To Avoid Aphid Infestation In Winter Wheat
December 10, 2014
The best strategy for managing aphid infestations in winter wheat — and the potential yellow dwarf diseases that they transmit — is prevention, according to a South Dakota State University Plant Pathology field specialist. Read More
LegislationDufault Installed As New ARA Chair
December 10, 2014
Dave Dufault, Vice President and General Manager of J.R. Simplot Company's Retail Business, was installed as the 2015 Chairman of the Board for ARA on December 4. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
December 10, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More