When we get a yearly checkup, the doctor always encourages us to adopt healthier habits. Did you ever consider that you can adopt healthier habits for your soil, too? We need our soil to be healthy because healthy soil is the key to meeting the growing demands for food, feed, fiber, and fuel around the world. Estimates are that the earth will need to support nine billion people by 2050!
How do we get our soil to be healthy? Soil test! Soil testing is an easy and relatively inexpensive planning tool. What are you growing and what nutrients are needed for the best production? A soil test reveals the current status of your soil and provides data essential to smart decision making. Applying too much or the wrong kinds of fertilizers can harm your crop, squander your hard-earned money, and waste your time and energy. Overapplication of soil amendments can result in runoff and leaching of fertilizers into our streams, rivers, and lakes or into our groundwater.
Here are some excellent resources to help you know your soil:
• How to take a soil sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_U9Z3fy0Ig
• Soil Sampling to Develop Nutrient Recommendations: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AGF-513
• Soil Testing for Ohio Lawns, Landscapes, Fruit Crops, and Vegetable Gardens: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-1132
• Interpreting a Soil Test Report: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AGF-514
• Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat, and Alfalfa: https://agcrops.osu.edu/FertilityResources/tri-stateinfo
A soil test is like a blood test at the doctor’s office. The results will help you maintain proper soil fertility, guide plant selection, assist with diagnosing plant problems, and promote the adoption of best management practices. Generally, soil testing is recommended every three years, unless you have specialty plants with particular fertility and soil pH requirements. If so, you may need to test more often.
Taking care of your soil is the foundation for the future, paying big dividends over time. Soil testing provides a basis for sound land management decisions and protects our local water resources. You can be the change for clean water. Know your soil. Don’t guess, soil test.
Visit us at the conservation park during the Delaware County Fair, Sept. 18-22. We are located next to the pig and lamb barn.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.