Don’t Forget Soil Sampling – It Could Cost You!

With harvest in full swing it’s also time to think about soil sampling once crops have been taken off, saysNatalie Wood, Country Arable Agronomist at Yara UK

UK soils have changed a lot in the last few decades; whether it’s the 97% sulphur deficiency found in soils sampled or the low organic matters across arable land. Everyone knows the importance of taking a soil sample; but should you be investing in more than just basic soil analysis?

Basic analysis will give you P, K, Mg and pH; which is a good start, but what about other nutrients and microorganisms? All these aspects are important for healthy plant growth and efficient nutrient uptake; are you aware that your soils are low in one or more of these elements?

Yara Analytical Services have processed over 20 million samples since the early 1980s. This huge dataset has shown that after removing all the soils with limiting factors such as P < index 2, pH <6.5 and micronutrient deficiencies then there is only a minority of soils that are sufficient in what a crop needs to grow to its full potential.

By taking a broad spectrum soil sample you’ll know about these issues before it’s too late – when symptoms appear the yield is already taking a hit. Remember Leibig’s Law of the Minimum which states “A deficiency of any single nutrient is enough to limit yield”. With yields being pushed further, whilst costs savings are sought (such as P and K holidays) you could be limiting the effectiveness of any increased nitrogen applications.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.