• Plant Health
  • Dec 17, 2020

Be Confident In Soil Sampling Results

Every year, you make a significant investment in fertility for your acres. Whether you had soil samples taken this past fall or will do so in spring, you need those samples to be taken properly and in a consistent manner. Being able to trust those results will lead you to make better fertilizer decisions.


Take accurate soil samples

At SureTech® Laboratories, we always say quality starts in the field. A testing lab can have the best processes and the most advanced quality control. But if there are inconsistencies in the way samples are taken, inconsistent results will occur.


To ensure accuracy, soil samples need to:

  • Be taken at the same time of the year.

  • Be taken at the right depth (consistently 6 to 8 inches).

  • Contain an adequate number of soil cores to accurately represent the area.

  • Use the most appropriate sampling method depending on a farmer’s strategy. Most farmers use a grid sampling method, where samples are taken every 2.5 acres. This is advantageous to understanding soil variability in a field or if the farmer is going to do a variable-rate fertilizer application.


If you are basing fertility decisions on poor soil samples, you might overapply fertilizer, which translates into dollars wasted. You could also underapply, resulting in a yield-limiting situation, lost revenue or both.


Consider the consequences of not soil sampling

Soil testing typically accounts for a small percentage of your total cost per acre when you consider seed, fertilizer and crop protection products. (A typical soil test costs about $7 per sample, representing a 2.5-acre grid.) Yet some of the most critical decisions you make during the season are based on that information. If you’re not soil sampling and you’re applying fertilizer, you’re operating blind.


Pair soil and tissue sampling results for more informed decision-making

If you had soil samples taken this past fall or intend to have them taken in the spring, be sure to pair them with the results of any in-season tissue samples from this season. Tissue samples that indicate deficiencies of secondary macronutrients like sulfur, or key micronutrients, could suggest that additional nutrients may need to be considered as part of your fertility program. Ultimately, this will help provide a more holistic data set to inform planning for next season, since nutrients in the soil do not always equate to nutrients in the plant.


In addition to leveraging soil sampling insights, it’s important to ensure that crop nutrient ratios are in balance in order to optimize yield and ROI potential. What we’ve found by examining hundreds of thousands of sampling data points is that several key nutrients must be balanced to meet a plant’s developmental needs. Two key measurements to keep in mind are nitrogen-to-sulfur ratios and nitrogen-to-potassium ratios


Work with your local trusted advisor to ensure your soil samples are consistent, that key crop nutrient ratios are in balance and that soil testing results are considered along with results from other agronomic tests such as tissue testing. This holistic approach will provide a more complete picture of your farm’s fertility profile and enable you to make more informed nutrient decisions for 2021.


All photos are either the property of WinField United or used with permission.
Important: Before use always read and follow label instructions. Crop performance is dependent on several factors many of which are beyond the control of WinField United, including without limitation, soil type, pest pressures, agronomic practices, and weather conditions. Growers are encouraged to consider data from multiple locations, over multiple years, and be mindful of how such agronomic conditions could impact results.

© 2020 WinField United. SureTech® and WinField® are trademarks of WinField United.

Plant Health

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