Soil testing is a critical component of nutrient management. A comprehensive soil testing protocol can be a significant investment of time and cash, however the pay off in managing the fertilizer bill, maximizing yield potential, and possibly decreasing environmental impacts makes it very worth it for many farms.
Still, soil testing is not universal, and in the September ’22 RealAgristudies Fertilizer Emissions Study, there were significant differences found in frequency of soil sampling by farm size and age of farmer.
That being said, most farms in Canada soil test, with 80 per cent of the over 500 respondents saying they test every year or two to three years.
Farm size also plays a key role in predicting the likelihood and frequency of soil sampling. The study suggests a very strong correlation between the larger the farm, the more likely fields are sampled annually or at least every third year.
When we delve a little further in to the data, we see that there’s another trend, too. Farmer age is also a predictor of soil sampling frequency, but this correlation is not as strong as farm size. Still, 54 per cent of respondents under 35 said they soil test annually, compared to only 33 per cent from the 65 and older group.
What does it all mean? A soil testing protocol is a powerful tool in best matching anticipated crop need through soil resources and added fertilizer. In other words, the more accurately farmers can assess what’s already in the soil, the more confident they can be in adding only the fertilizer required — and that goes a long way in minimizing fertilizer losses.
You can see more from the 2022 study, here.
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