In today’s agricultural economy it is tempting to take a few shortcuts and not purchase inputs or services that were utilized in the past. Growers need to make the best use of their financial resources, but care must be taken not to cut inputs that can make money. As growers consider their crop nutrition needs it is tempting to forgo something as basic, but important, as soil testing.
Soil testing allows the grower to determine the current condition of the soil, including imbalances, deficiencies, and excesses. It also helps identify how much nutrition is already available in the soil so that fertilizer applications can be optimized. A multi-year testing program allows the grower to monitor changes in the soil over time.
Planning a soil sampling program requires the grower to know the field. A good starting point for planning a sampling plan is a soil survey map that identifies different soil types in that field.