Soil is the basis for many industries and products. It is a vital resource that aids the growth of anything from fresh produce, feed and cover crops to attracting game animals. Dairy One’s Soil Laboratory provides all its customers with reports on nutrients available or recommendations on fertilizers needed to improve plant health. This data is vital to see continued success in fields, gardens, wildlife food plots, and many other locations.
While the Soil Laboratory can help anyone from greenhouse growers to golf course managers, below are a few key areas the team has highlighted as places where they frequently see the need to improve soil health.
The nutrients available in the soil have a huge impact on the crops being grown in a field. While most crops rely on a steady supply of nitrogen, others might need a well-draining soil. Regular soil samples from all crop fields on a farm are important for crop yield and fertilizer plans.
For example, while one field introduced additional nutrients thanks to a winter cover crop, another field may have had a large rain event that moved nutrients off it. Since many farms use manure on their fields rather than commercial fertilizer, a report on soil nutrient levels will impact where a manure injection or spreading may occur.
Additionally, regularly sampling a field over many years will show the successes or failures of a crop rotation plan, fertilization plans, or other management practices or experiments performed on cropland. These practices can run anywhere from the impact of no-till to placing extra fertilizer on one field and not another. A soil sample and test will record actual results from this and tell what exactly it did for that field.
Much like crops, vegetables each have their own requirements and needs from soil. There is also a wide array of ways that vegetables are grown – from small backyard gardens to large-scale vegetable retailers, each of these locations has a diverse soil availability. Depending on the vegetable, growers may also have different soil requirements from one that holds lots of air pockets to others that retain water better.
Much like cropland, vegetable growers need to know the nutrient levels in their soil for fertilizer application plans. In addition, some plants may spread diseases through the soil, so a soil test will be conducted to determine if it is safe to plant in that area once again.
Orchards and Vineyards
Orchardists and vineyard managers need to monitor the amount of nutrients in the soil. Additionally, they need to collect surface and sub-surface samples and test them, as the roots of their plants grow much deeper for longer periods of time. As these types of farms purchase new land or change around their growing plots, they also want to analyze the soil to see if it will support their plans.
Vineyards and hopyards are also very concerned about what outside factors may affect their end results – wine and beer. The impact of soil on the taste of wine and beer is something owners want to stay on top of. It only takes a small change to affect an entire crop, which doesn’t bode well for the business. Soil testing reveals what may have gone wrong or prevent a problem from even happening.
Wildlife Food Plots
In certain states, hunters use wildlife food plots for hunting purposes. Having the right plants present to attract game can be traced back to the soil. While a grass lot may require the presence of one nutrient, a wood lot has other needs. But with an accurate look at what’s available soil nutrient-wise, hunters can succeed with plant growth. Especially if a fertilizer application is necessary to apply for help with growth. Game animals tend to be attracted to places where there are enough plants to eat that match their diet, and as a hunter, that starts by looking at the soil.
If you need assistance with soil sampling, it can be done by Agricultural Consulting Services, and you can visit their website for more details. For more information about the services that the Dairy One Soil Laboratory offers, email [email protected].