Know How to Use Your Soil Test Results

Know How to Use Your Soil Test Results

Collecting soil samples is just the first step in a nutrient management plan. The results from those samples need to be reviewed and decisions made about what types of fertilizers should be added.

While the soil test report can look overwhelming at first, the NCDA actually does a pretty good job of presenting results and recommendations in a way that is easy to understand. An annotated example report is below.


The recommendations on the report (in the top section) are like a prescription to be filled. Whether you are applying fertilizer yourself or having a supplier apply it, these numbers are critical to know what products, and how much of each to use.

The test results are also provided (bottom section). You can use these numbers to determine which nutrients to apply (and the amounts needed), if you want to fertilize differently than what NCDA recommends.

For a more detailed explanation of the soil tests results, see the NCDA “Understanding the Soil Test Report” brochure here or the “Fertilization of Field Crops” note here.

It is important that details supplied by the grower are accurate as they affect the quality of recommendations received. In order to receive the most accurate recommendations for your operation, you must provide up-to-date and correct information on the sample submission form.

It is also important to remember nutrient management isn’t a one season process. In addition to looking at this year’s soil test results, it is also helpful to go back and look at previous year’s results from the same field. By keeping track of how nutrient levels and soil pH change over time, you can determine how effective your nutrient applications are.

If you want to learn more about soil testing and results, this quick video from the United Soybean Board walks you through what information you need from your soil test to maximize fertility.

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