Better soils yield better!

If you click on the hand colored soils map I copied from the County Soil Service you will see tremendous variations in soils across these fields. Most of the variation was caused by slope erosion.

I had a lengthy discussion with the county soil service about the date these maps we're produced and how accurate they are. The end result of the conversation was that they are a general estimation and not highly accurate. An overlay may in fact be helpful to further define the soil zones. I could probably get a similar map to use for soil testing if I used a yield map.The problems would be if the field had weed patches, significant wet spots or some other reason unusual variations of yield other than soils. Multiple year yield maps would be more helpful to overlay and help define the soil lines.

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The reason I would use yield maps to help define the soils is common sense. Better soils yield better!

Once I have the map I need defined, it's a matter of pulling ~12 samples per sample location within the defined soil zones. The results as you would expect, show up with OM (organic matter) percentages that depict the soil types in the county survey.

I use Midwest Laboratories exclusively. In any of the following categories and website Google search keywords, they provide top quality service; Agricultural Lab, Agricultural Labs, Agricultural gps, Agriculture Lab, Agriculture labs, Fertility Recommendations, Midwest Soil, Precision Ag, Soil Agronomy, Soil Testing Labs, Soil Testing Service, Soil Testing Services.

The reason I use them exclusively is, not so long ago, other labs got the idea that they could speed up the processing of soil samples (the customers could get their results back sooner during the soil test season "rush" and no one would be the wiser!), if they could reduce the number of steps in the process! OK, so they use different chemicals and a different process than the old standard, by the way, the "Old" standard is the basis of making soil fertilizer recommendations and therefore one of the farmers greatest expense and yield determinant we are told, right!

So, this change, I will call "New" process produces a new set of values. What do those new numbers mean? They are not based on yield data research by any university or accredited facility so how is there any correlation to the "Old". The labs have to use a "correlation correction". Those are my words. I am not sure what they term the corrections. Now you have a new set of soil test values. Not a value from the "Old" standard and not even a value from the "New" method. Great, what am I going to do with this third value that was created? Good question

This is the biggest reason, among other good testing standards they adhere to, for my considering only Midwest Labs when getting tests of any kind.

What I am looking for from a soil test result;

  • Organic matter (Walkley Black) the larger the number, the better the soil.
  • Anion - Phosphorous P1 is the estimated available to the plant at the time the test was taken. This value is only a problem if too low or too high typical of hog manure.
  • Phosphorous P2 is the estimated available to the plant at the height of soil bacteria activity. Usually double the value of P1.
  • Cation - Correcting soils to these ranges for optimum crop production; % K 2-5, Mg 10-13, Ca 70-85, H 3-5
  • pH - Parts Hydrogen, I don't really care much about the number here because if I look at the % H, I have my answer.

If the parts Hydrogen is above the 3% I will recommend liming. The consideration of the make up of chemicals in the lime i.e., Magnesium versus Calcium will be based on my Magnesium readings from the soil test. Too high a Mg means, the corn will require more dollars spent on Nitrogen to get the same yield. And as always, testing the lime will determine what quantity of the lime will flow though a #100 mesh screen. Why is that important? Any lime particle size larger than what will flow through a #100 mesh screen may take tens of years to reduce Hydrogen values. Do not take the word of the quarry. They produce rock. They are not concerned with the makeup and are not agronomists! Grab samples from the pile you will be loaded out of because hard vs soft vanes in mining produce differing crush results.

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Posted in Home Improvement Post Date 03/01/2017






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