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The Importance of Soil Testing

10 Sep 2014

The largest cause for hesitation we receive from prospective clients is that they are uncertain whether they want to add another expense to their operation.  This is especially the case after some areas have had multiple challenging years with weather conditions and moisture preventing them from obtaining a high yielding crop.

Ironically after a tough year, scrutinizing your fertility program could be one of the most valuable risk management tools available to you.  Knowing what is in your soil after a hard year can help you properly place your fertilizer where it needs to be and save on areas where the crop may not have utilized it in the past.

Below are results from a soil test completed this fall in Gilbert Plains, MB.  The field in question has been challenged by moisture conditions for a number of years. We have taken out all the other factors tested for other than nitrogen for simplicity.

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The Sample ID column indicates the zone number.  The Acre column indicates the number of acres in each zone.  N1 is the number of pounds of nitrogen remaining in the top 6 inches of soil.  N2 is the amount of pounds remaining in the 6 – 24 inch region of the soil, while the last column is the entire amount of nitrogen in the top 2 feet of soil, (or the 2 amounts added together).

As you can see this field has a lot of remaining nitrogen left for the upcoming crop. Without the producer knowing his fertility levels he would have spent $60.50 this fall putting down 110lbs of N @ .55¢/lb. The table below summarizes the economics in this example.

table

 

This exemplifies results that we repeatedly see at 360° Ag Consulting.  Because of our experience we see soil testing as an integral part of a strong agronomic variable rate program.  We believe that providing a service that takes out the expense of soil testing during tough times, is providing a disservice to our customers.  It is during these times that this information becomes vital to providing a proper return on investment for your farm.