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Soil testing and methods to collect quality sample

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What is Soil Testing?
It is a process in which elements such as Phosporous, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Sulphur, Maganese, Copper and Zinc are chemically removed from the Soil and measured for their “Plant available” content within the sample. The quantity of available nutrients in the soil determines the amount of fertilizer recommended.  Along with this soil pH, humus content is also measured.

What is the need for Soil Test?
Soil test helps to provide the best lime and fertilizer recommendation that encourages plant growth.  Farmers need not apply lime and fertilizers on guess.  Applying too much lime increases soil pH which may exceed the required level that causes the nutrients such as iron, manganese, boron, carbon and zinc to become less available in plants.

To diagnose whether there is too little or excess nutrients

Saves money that might otherwise be spent on unnecessary lime and fertilizers

Quality and timing of samples
Soil samples should be taken in the right way and in right time.  Area sampled, equipments used, the depth and the mix of the sample influences the quality of sample.
You can take sample at any point of year however a few months before starting any crop is recommended.  Based on soil report if lime is recommended, you will have enough time to apply it.  For recently fertilized areas delay the process by six to eight weeks.

Use Shovel, Spade to collect samples.  Don’t use bronze, brass, or galvanized tools because they will contaminate samples with copper or zinc.

Take samples in a clean plastic bucket.  Don’t use fertilizer bucket or other chemical bucket to carry samples, if needed, wash it thoroughly before using it for soil samples.
Take samples and sub-samples from different areas, 4 – 6 inches sample depth is recommended.

Mix sample cores well in the bucket to fill a soil sample box about two-thirds full.

Get the Soil testing sheet from your nearest agricultural laboratory and fill the form pack and label the boxes properly

Soil testing reports are usually analyzed within one or two weeks from the date of submission however timing differs from place to place.  Approach nearby Agriculture consultants for help on sampling and soil test report interpretations.
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