The Pros and Cons of Spring and Fall Soil Tests

If soil is the medium in which farmers make a living, then we should be acutely aware of how healthy those soils actually are. In order to keep an eye on the nutrients, pH and other elements that make up the ground we grow on, it’s important that we do regular sampling to explore it.

This question often comes up... 

When is the Best Time to Take Soil Samples?

Most labs will tell you that when done correctly, the seasonality of your soil test doesn’t actually impact your data. The key to getting the most out of your sampling is to take them when it makes the most sense for your operation.

Seeing the Big Picture Between Fall and Spring

Soil sampling is a jumping off point for finding the best ways to replenish and recharge the soil after a few strenuous cropping seasons. Having better data is key to better management, so it’s important to know the advantages and disadvantages of spring versus fall soil samples.

Let’s start with fall soil sampling:

For many, fall is the most opportune time to get the sampling done. But when that isn’t possible it may be best to move to spring.

A Different Approach to Soil Sampling

So, if the spring window is tight… and the fall window is busy… is there a way to take the pressure out of soil sampling?

One idea is to take spring samples in preparation for fall application, perhaps before emergence. This would lessen the pressure of getting it all done at once and allow you to take adequate time to get your samples back, review the data and make a plan that does the most for your operation.

This would also give you plenty of time to work with your agronomist to ensure you have exactly what you need (lime, fertilizer, etc.) exactly when you need it for fall application. Since you only sample once every 3-4 years, getting it right is essential.

Did You Know...

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For more than 40 years, Midwest Laboratories has been the industry leader in providing expedient, reliable and traceable analytical services for the agricultural industry, from soil and water quality to biosolids, manure, sludge, and compost. Their agriculture tests include soil testing, fertilizer testing, compost testing, biosolids land application testing and lime quality testing.

*25% off of limited packages from Midwest Laboratories. Please see FBN Marketplace for complete details. The views expressed in this article are the author's alone and not those of Farmer's Business Network, Inc., its affiliates or members.