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
Syngenta Sign
FungicidesSyngenta’s Newest Fungicide Receives EPA Approval
September 1, 2015
Syngenta announced today that its newest succinate dehydrogenase inhibitor (SDHI) fungicide – Solatenol – has received registration from EPA and Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
Crop InputsDelaying The Fertilizer Decision
September 1, 2015
Comments gathered from several retailers recently evidenced a classic good-news-bad-news scenario. Good news is prices and supplies of nitrogen, phosphate, Read More
StewardshipBee Buffer Strip Initiative Seeks 100 Ohio Farmers
August 31, 2015
The U.S. Bee Buffer Project, an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership (P2), Burt’s Bees and The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Read More
2015 ShowStopper Award, MAGIE
EquipmentA ShowStopper From Case IH: The Patriot 2250
August 31, 2015
For nine years now, visitors to the yearly Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) show have been tasked with not only Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, FMC Expand Roundup Ready PLUS Platform
August 31, 2015
FMC Corp. and Monsanto Co. announced today an expanded agreement to continue their participation in the Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Read More
Deere Nutrient Applicator
Eric SfiligojThe Good & Bad News From MAGIE
August 31, 2015
As I write this column, I’ve just returned from the annual Midwest AG Industries (MAGIE) trade show in Bloomington, IL. Read More
CPS Morenci receiving its 4R certification
StewardshipCPS Morenci Becomes First Michigan Facility Certified I…
August 31, 2015
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced that Crop Production Services, Inc.’s facility located in Morenci, MI, has been Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces Soucy Track Distribution Alliance
August 28, 2015
John Deere announces an alliance with Soucy Track to sell and distribute products through the John Deere dealer channel. “This Read More
FertilizerFall-Applied Phosphorus: A Rooted Investment
August 28, 2015
As commodity prices decrease and input prices continue to rise, farmers are seeking more efficient strategies for meeting a high Read More
Monsanto Sign
Crop InputsWhat’s Next For Monsanto, Syngenta?
August 28, 2015
After dropping its $47 billion bid to take over Swiss agribusiness firm Syngenta, Monsanto may be turning its focus to Read More
Golden Harvest Corn stalks
Crop InputsMonsanto: Syngenta Not The Only Horse In Crop Protectio…
August 28, 2015
Monsanto Co, having ditched an audacious $46 billion (£30 billion) offer for Syngenta AG, may downshift to a humbler strategy Read More
ManagementConsolidation hits and a miss; And a look at China’s ch…
August 28, 2015
As Monsanto suspends its pursuit of Syngenta, consolidation news at the retail and distribution level heats up. CropLife magazine’s Executive Read More
Corn Field
MicronutrientsHuma Gro Introduces New Boron Liquid Nutrient Formulati…
August 28, 2015
BORO-MAX, a new boron (B) 10% liquid nutrient formulation, has been added to the Huma Gro product line. This new Read More
Crop InputsNFU: Monsanto Decision To Withdraw Syngenta Bid ‘…
August 26, 2015
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson said the organization was very pleased by the news that Monsanto has withdrawn Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Withdraws Bid For Syngenta
August 26, 2015
Monsanto Co. abandoned its latest effort to acquire Syngenta AG, the world’s top maker of pesticides, after a sweetened bid Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta Comments On Monsanto Announcement
August 26, 2015
The Board of Syngenta confirms that it received a verbal proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company at a price Read More
Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer
EquipmentHigh-powered Case IH Patriot 2250 Sprayer Pushes Throug…
August 26, 2015
Engineered with more muscle, the new 660-gallon-capacity Patriot 2250 sprayer features best-in-class horsepower, along with the fuel efficiency that comes Read More
Crop InputsLand ‘O Lakes, United Suppliers Finalize Merger
August 24, 2015
According to a press release on August 24, owners of United Suppliers, Inc. and members of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “have Read More