Soil testing is an important diagnostic tool for any gardener who wants to grow quality produce, beautiful flowers and a healthy lawn. It is recommended that soil is tested every two to three years to maintain proper soil pH and balanced nutrients.
Key Advantages of Soil Testing
It informs the gardener of the current health of the garden’s soil and how to improve it.
Soil fertility is determined by the soil’s biological, chemical, and physical properties. Properties such as structure, soil texture, and color are visible to the eye. However, it is hard to see the chemical composition of soil. Therefore, there is need for soil diagnosis and that’s why soil sampling is critical. Soil tests are used to determine the soil’s nutrient level and pH content. Armed with this information, gardeners can define the quantity of fertilizer and exact type that is needed for application to improve the soil on your farm. This is essential because fertile soils are necessary to grow healthy crops.
Soil testing leads to minimization of fertilizer expenditure
Knowing the exact deficiency that your soil is experiencing will result in zero wastage of soil amendments. The quantity and type of fertilizers your crops and soil need prevents gardeners from wasting money on unnecessary extra fertilizer application. Moreover, nutrients such as potassium and phosphorus that are part of inorganic fertilizers are very limited resources. Their supply is rather finite; implying that there is need to be cautious in the usage to prevent future shortage of such limited resources.
Soil testing results to limited over-fertilization
Applying fertilizer to your soil without knowing the exact and actual nutrient that it needs will lead to over-fertilization. Testing your soil prior and receiving informed fertilizer recommendation prevents farmers from applying excessive amount of fertilizers and minimizing the related environmental damages. Over-fertilization might result in water pollution, nutrient leaching, and irreversible harm to the aquatic life. Just a simple soil test can prevent all these negative environmental effects. Further, overuse of fertilizer may be harmful not only to the environment but also it might cause fertilizer burn to the crops.
Farmers can easily avoid soil degradation
It is estimated from research that each year more than 24 billion tons of fertile soil are lost because of erosion which is caused by unbalanced soil management. Furthermore, land degradation directly affects the livelihoods and health of an estimated 1.5 billion people. Soil restoration is a costly, difficult, and time-consuming process. Therefore, better soil management through soil testing is an easier route to take, and application of the right amounts of fertilizers is efficient and financially justified.
Farmers with fertile soils can contribute to feeding the world’s growing population
The current generation puts more pressure on the soil than ever before. There is need of fertile soils to produce yields that will feed the needs of your own family and the world’s ever-growing population. Improved soil health implies more crops, potentially closing the world’s food security issues. This will eventually bring a better life to millions of people. Soil testing is the first step in soil management. The activity gives gardeners valuable information that helps them improve the soil’s health; healthy soils = healthy crops!
The importance of soil testing cannot be minimalized. Different types of soils and variation in soil properties are important factors to note in growing food. Soil texture, soil moisture, and soil chemistry are determinants of what crops can be grown and how much yield the garden can produce.
A soil test can provide information on the proper amount of lime and fertilizer to apply to your lawn, garden and other areas of your landscape. When gardeners apply only as much lime and fertilizer as is necessary and at the appropriate time, nutrient runoff into surface or ground water is minimized, money is saved, and plant health is optimized. Soil testing can also be used to diagnose common nutrient deficiencies or toxicities for plants that are growing poorly.
The reliability of the soil test, however, can be no better than the sample you submit. For results you can depend on, it is vitally important that you take samples correctly to accurately represent the soil in your landscape.
Don’t Guess, Soil Test!
This web site explains how to obtain representative soil samples and to submit them for analysis to a Soil Testing Laboratory. It is an easy-to-learn process that will benefit you, your landscape and the environment. There are six sections of information (listed below in the table of contents). You can go through the site from beginning to end by clicking the “START HERE” button below. Then, just click the “NEXT” button at the bottom of each section to go to the next section. Or, you can jump to a particular section by clicking any of the items in the table of contents.
Buy your own soil testing products.
- Soil Testing Tools
- When and How Often to Sample Garden Soil
- Where to Sample Garden Soil
- How to Take a Soil Sample
Several times throughout this web site, you are given an opportunity to review what you have learned by answering a question on important aspects of soil testing. These short questions are designed to help you confirm that you have understood the key points of the instruction. The questions are optional, so if you do not wish to use them, move ahead to the next part of the instruction.