Soil Testing —
Staying Profitable In Today’s Markets
With the challenge to stay profitable in these markets that have settled back in prices, we all need to look for ways we can improve. We need to be more aggressive in managing the largest asset a farmer possesses, our soil. By attending clinics on soils and learning about the tests that you should be performing, you can find large rewards in yield. These tests, done correctly and read correctly, can tell you if lime or tiling is needed. You can also learn if you need to alter your fertilizer application program, as well as timing of applications and the amount you apply per pass.
With today’s technology we can do a lot of this ourselves. There are apps available for your smart phone that allow you to do your own grid sampling. Once you have your samples pulled, deciding what tests are performed is, to me, your most important decision. Make sure you have the tests performed that provide you with all the major nutrients and micronutrients as well as pH, and your cation ratio index. You need to know your soil’s ability to hold fertilizer at any given time, to structure how much and how often you may need to apply fertilizer. Once you have your samples done and your test results back, you can discuss them with your agronomist and develop your plan for each field and crop you are growing that season to get the most out of every seed you have planted. Now, don’t forget, the work is not done yet. Once your crop has emerged, get back out there and scout those fields for stand quality and crop health. Take tissue samples in a timely manner so you can adjust for any shortages in your program. Let the growing plant tell you what it needs.
This is a short overview of what you may already be doing. I hope, if you have not been aggressive in testing, you will step back and take a hard look at what and how you are feeding the growing crop, and the crops you will be producing in the future. Remember, failing to apply the correct nutrient needs could be losing dollars, when it may cost only cents to raise the return on investment. With improved nutrient management also come other rewards. Water and run off pollution is greatly reduced by not being good, but great at your soil and nutrient management.
If you have more questions about soil testing, contact your Kussmaul Seeds dealer.