Achieving higher yields on a 2015 crop can be done through simple soil testing. Right now is a great time to get in the fields, collect soil samples and find out what types of nutrients your field is lacking. Stine Seed Agronomist Kyle Ross tells HAT that soil sampling is all about being that much more precise and controlling your inputs.
“Absolutely. You know, we’ve had a really good crop come off, a lot of nutrients were pulled off with that. And then also with the commodity prices falling back to the level we’re at today, guys are really going to be sharpening their pencils to figure out a way where they can either cut costs or spend money in areas that are going to help them be profitable into next year.”
Ross says frozen soil can be hard to pull for sampling; but growers will get their chances with potential warm ups coming in the next week or so.
“We’ve had extremely cold weather for this time of year. We are going to warm back up. It may be a little messy on the very top of the soil but we’ll be able to get back out there and pull some soil samples so we can get the results before spring and have all winter to compile these and have a game plan moving into spring to figure out how much and where we need to put the fertility that we’re putting out there.”
After compiling your soil tests, Ross says it’s best to confer with your agronomist about how to proceed.
“They can help you go through your soil samples and look at the recommendations and help you come up with a game plan to target either those troubled areas or even the high-producing areas where you’ve pulled a lot of nutrients off in those areas. We’re really going to make sure we have the right recommendation to get those levels to stay where we’re not drawing down our fertility levels in those particular areas.”
Tony Lenz, Regional Sales Agronomist for Stine Seed, wrote the following on soil sampling:
Knowing how much phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), potassium (K), potash (K20), phosphate (P205), and micronutrients are available in your field is essential. These nutrients are vital to the health of the plants, enabling them to flourish and thrive in various conditions. Even without having your field tested, we know that this last crop removed many of these key nutrients from the soil.
For example, let’s say you plan to plant corn on corn and you just had a 200 bushels per acre crop. You know that crop just removed 180 pounds of N, 76 pounds of P205 and 54 pounds of K2O. If you are coming off a 50 bushels per acre soybean crop, it just removed 42 pounds of P2O5 and 65 pounds of K2O. These nutrients should be applied to prevent soil fertilizer levels from falling behind.
Another key element to look for when taking soil samples is the pH level of the soil. Ideally, a field should have a pH level in the six to seven range. If the soil falls below a six, we can easily add lime to help raise that number. It is harder when we are over a seven pH to lower that number, and it can take many years to build up the organic matter in your field with the most common method of applying animal manure.
Finally, look over micronutrients to see where small gains can be made, as these numbers do not always get the same attention as N, P or K levels.
Get more on winter preparations online at www.stineseed.com/asktheagronomist.