The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension again is offering soil testing for row and forage crop producers such as hay and improved pastures.
This special Coastal Bend Soil Testing Campaign will take place from Oct. 1 thru Nov. 16, 2018.
Producers can gear up for next year’s growing season by soil sampling now to determine the status of soil nutrients in fields and pastures.
“With soil testing, you can actually see what you’re deficient in and how much you need to supplement your range or your crop production as far as nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium,” said Texas A&M AgriLife Extension agent Bobby McCool.
The objective in sampling is to obtain composite samples of soil that represent the entire area to be fertilized or limed.
“On 40 acres we will take a number of samples, probably at least 12-20 samples over that 40-acre field so we can get a random sample from a lot of different spots. They are mixed together, and the analysis will be taken from a combined soil sample,” said McCool.
Soil testing is a critical tool for farmers and ranchers. Applying fertilizer without a current soil test is sure to cost in either over application or under production.
“If you find that you have a bank of nitrogen in the soil, you can actually use that in your production for the next year and only fertilize to meet your needs for whatever goals you have of production you are expecting to get for that coming year,” said McCool.
Soil testing offers farmers a proven means of evaluating soil nutrient levels and provides guidelines to help set fertilizer rates and application methods to achieve desired production levels.
With the downward trend of cotton and feed grain market prices, it’s important that producers put themselves in the best position to take advantage of their land’s value.
The first is to obtain soil sample bags and instructions from an AgriLife Extension county office. After collecting composite samples, participants then select the proper test and complete the information sheet, which can be returned to the AgriLife Extension county office for a 33 percent discount on the testing fee and free shipping.
The routine analysis tests for pH, nitrates, conductivity, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium and sulfur, while the routine plus micronutrients tests for zinc, iron, copper and manganese.
Soil samples will be analyzed by the Texas A&M University Soils Testing Laboratory for a reduced fee of $8 per sample for the routine analysis and $15 per sample for the routine plus micronutrient test during this special campaign.
Soil testing should be the basis for any fertility program on any crop. Soil tests can be used to estimate the kinds and amounts of soil nutrients available to plants and aid in determining fertilizer needs.
Properly conducted soil sampling and testing can be cost-effective indicators of the types and amounts of fertilizer needed to improve crop yield.
Once the kits are dropped off at one of the area locations, the test samples will then be sent to Texas A&M University-College Station.
Additional information on soil sampling and testing is available by accessing the Extension Soil, Water, and Forage Testing Laboratory website at http://soiltesting.tamu.edu.