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

Latest News
Corn close up
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Establishes Global Headquarters In R…
May 25, 2016
Arysta LifeScience has announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from West Palm Beach, FL, to Cary, NC, over the Read More
fertilizer blending and storage, Top 100
BlendersCHS Dakota Expansion Features AGCO’s GSI InterSys…
May 25, 2016
The continued growth of precision agriculture has increased farmer use of customized fertilizer blends best-suited for their soil conditions. Several Read More
ManagementAgriculture 3.5: A Bumpy Road Ahead
May 24, 2016
You may have read my article a few years ago on Agriculture 3.0, which is a term I coined to Read More
Topcon’s X30 display with CropSpec sensors
EquipmentGPS Autosteer Systems: Product Updates From Precision A…
May 24, 2016
Throughout 2015 GPS Steering solutions continued to evolve from what was once an after-market add on, to today’s cab where Read More
Trimble TMX-2050 In-Cab Display
Eric SfiligojThe Precision Ag Revolution Continues
May 24, 2016
It’s funny how much “the first time” tends to mean to someone as they get older. I sometimes can’t recall Read More
Eric Wintemute, AMVAC
Precision AgAMVAC Ups The Ante With New Precision Ag Technology
May 24, 2016
A potentially industry-changing at-plant soil treatment system from American Vanguard Corp., or AMVAC, is coming soon to large growers in Read More
Dry and Liquid Plant
CropLife 100CropLife 100 Map
May 24, 2016
The new CropLife 100 map shows the locations of each of the headquarters of the 2015 CropLife 100 retailers. The interactive Read More
Southern States Cooperative
Corn Field
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Names Veteran Account Manager To Lead Central…
May 23, 2016
With the continuing growth of the sulphur bentonite and precision crop nutrient industry, global agriculture firm H.J. Baker has announced that Read More
Bayer sign
Industry NewsReuters: Bayer Defies Critics With $62 Billion Monsanto…
May 23, 2016
German drugs and crop chemicals group Bayer has offered to buy U.S. seeds company Monsanto for $62 billion in cash, Read More
Eric SfiligojPity The Monsanto Haters
May 23, 2016
An old saying goes thus: “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.” Given current events, there Read More
Industry NewsCompass Minerals Hires Industry Veteran To Lead Plant N…
May 19, 2016
Compass Minerals has hired plant nutrition industry veteran Vatren Jurin to steer the company’s portfolio expansion into specialty liquid micronutrient Read More
ASMARK Retailers LIVE! Tour 2016 Group shot The Andersons
CropLife 100The Andersons Rejects Unsolicited Proposal From HC2
May 19, 2016
The Andersons, Inc. has announced that its Board of Directors has rejected two non-binding, highly conditional, unsolicited proposals from HC2 Read More
glyphosate
Crop InputsWHO: Glyphosate ‘Unlikely’ To Cause Cancer
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter Kate Kelland: The weed-killing pesticide glyphosate, made by Monsanto and widely used in agriculture and by gardeners, Read More
dicamba, Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
Crop InputsASA: No Dicamba On Roundup Ready 2 Xtend In 2016
May 16, 2016
While Roundup Ready 2 Xtend (RR2X) are tolerant to dicamba and glyphosate herbicides, no dicamba herbicides will be approved for Read More
CPP, glyphosate, dicamba, atrazine,
Crop InputsReport: Congress Pressing EPA On Glyphosate Review Hand…
May 16, 2016
Via Reuters.com reporter P.J. Huffstutter: U.S. lawmakers have asked EPA to explain why it published – and then withdrew – Read More
Monsanto Luling Plant
Crop InputsReport: Bayer Eyeing Monsanto For Possible Mega-Merger
May 16, 2016
Bayer AG is exploring a potential bid for U.S. competitor Monsanto Co. in a deal that would create the world’s Read More
ManagementAsmark Institute Tour Observations
May 12, 2016
Special Guest CropLife Field Editor Matthew Grassi discusses his week-long visit with 45 ag retailers as part of the Asmark Read More