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Every year, you make a significant investment in fertility for your acres. Whether you soil sample in spring or fall, 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.
Manager, SureTech Laboratories
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:
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.
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.
Two and a half years ago at SureTech, we switched our pH testing procedure from a water-based method to a salt method. This new way of testing helps minimize any seasonal or weather-related effects on pH. Previously, if we had dry weather, a pH test could reflect an artificially lower pH level due to the high salt content in the soil. If we had wet conditions, pH levels might be artificially higher because some of the salt had leached out. Using a salt pH testing method provides more consistent, less seasonally affected pH numbers.
We’re working with the WinField United Innovation Center on several trials to determine what the most advantageous testing options are for farmers. The more data on each acre we can provide, the better the decisions farmers will be equipped to make about optimizing their fertilizer dollars. Talk with your local trusted advisor about the right soil testing process for your fields.
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