How hard is it to shoot a clay target in the dark? You can have a stab but the result won’t be ideal. A farm is a business and business decisions need to be based on data/logic so the best outcomes can be achieved. The farm is a dynamic business where variables change all the time so having access to the latest data reduces this variability.
Soil nutrient testing eliminates the guess work and equips you with information that helps in production of healthy plants and thereby ensures maximum yield. The facility for soil nutrient testing is available fairly easily through your local cooperative extension or private laboratories. Soil nutrient testing provides comprehensive and informative test and is available at a low price if used correctly.
Routine soil testing is imperative to figure out nutrient deficiencies and surplus, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and soil pH. Soil testing results helps in selecting appropriate fertiliser and amendments to take corrective measure against deficiencies and other problems and thus results in optimisation of uptake of fertilizer nutrients in plants. Optimum nutrient uptake is important as fertilisers claim for sizeable portion of overall crop production expenses.
Soil nutrient testing is going to help you for below three reasons
- Present Status: It lets you know the status of your soil fertility and nutrient requirement.
- Corrective measures: It helps you evaluate the suitability of the current management practice over time, requirement for adjustment of existing fertilizer program and helps in ensuring optimum yield.
- Diagnostic: It helps you know the exact reason for poor yield or poor growth. The test will also show if there is an accumulation of mineral elements that are toxic to plant.
The best time to take soil sample
- Before you start land preparation
- After harvesting
- Whenever there is an outbreak of insects or diseases
- Whenever you have a doubt about the amount of fertilizer required
- Whenever you prepare batch of potting mixture
Once a farmer has a fair idea of the current nutrient status of the soil and therefore can plan more efficiently future strategies. This knowledge will also inform if any ameliorants are required to correct the soil’s physical or chemical imbalances. Not only does soil testing helps in taking corrective measures but also helps in identifying opportunities to improve farm productivity through efficient soil fertility management. A farmer can also design an appropriate nutrient plan based on certain productivity targets. Monitoring soil nutrient status over time will help farmer identify patterns that can help build long term strategies besides helping him fine-tune inputs. The best of all, soil testing will help a farmer realise improved budgeting of farm financial resources through efficient cost effective nutrient decision.