Your soy checkoff works to help you increase the profit potential of your farm, and that begins with farm-management basics. Here are some simple tips from Brian and Darren Hefty, of the “Ag PhD” TV show, on the importance of soil sampling.
Did you know?
- Sixty bushels of soybeans need 131 pounds of potassium. They also need 21 pounds of sulfate, 58 pounds of phosphate and a few pounds of micronutrients.
- Other than nitrogen, potassium (K) is the nutrient soybeans need most.
- When reading a soil test, don’t look at parts per million of K. Instead, use a base saturation test.
- If your base saturation K is less than 4 percent, your crop will be low in K at some point during the growing season.
Follow these suggestions to properly sample your soil and improve the fertility of your land:
- Use either a grid- or zone-sample method. You need to sample different soil types and topographies separately. You can’t get top soybean yields from every acre of every field if you have big variances in pH, nutrients, soil types or other critical factors.
- Once you have your data, learn how to read it. We can teach you how to read a soil test at a free “Ag PhD” Soils Clinic this winter. Over your farming career, you will likely invest millions of dollars in fertilizer. Understanding soil-sampling results will help you get the most out of your investment each year.
- Many farmers tell us they overfertilize their corn, so there are plenty of nutrients left the next year for soybeans. On average, U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics prove that statement wrong. In fact, most farmers barely apply enough fertilizer for the corn, leaving little for the soybeans. Lack of nutrients is the No. 1 reason soybean yields are not higher today.
- We suggest soil testing every year in fields you have just started farming and on ground where you are making significant changes. You can probably get away with soil testing every two to four years elsewhere. If you have good soil tests and plant-tissue-analysis data, you should be able to fine-tune your fertility program to maximize your soybean yields and profits.