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Soil Testing Made Easy with Corpbiz

Agricultural production is dependent on farmland quality, and a soil test may detect problems with crop growth conditions in a timely manner. Field suitability study aids in the selection of suitable crops or land usage for agricultural purposes.

Regular soil testing is ultimately beneficial not just to producers but also to all agribusiness participants, such as agri-coops, crop insurers, banks, input suppliers, and commodities dealers. However, authorized laboratories only report current field attributes. So, when assessing soil test findings for field improvement choices, it is preferable to integrate lab reports with historical data derived from satellite imagery analytics.

What Is Soil Testing?

It is an agricultural analysis for a variety of factors such as chemical content, toxicity, pH level, salinity, and earth-dwelling biota. These tests also reveal chemical contamination, humic or organic matter, electric conductivity, cation exchange capability, and other physical and chemical features.

Why Test Soil in the Garden?

Most soil nutrients are easily available in soils with pH levels ranging from 6 to 6.5. However, when the pH increases, several nutrients (including phosphorus and iron) may become less accessible. When it lowers, they may reach dangerous levels, which might harm the plants. A soil test may assist in eliminating the guesswork in addressing any of these nutritional concerns. There is no need to spend money on fertilizers that are unnecessary. There is also no need to worry about over-fertilizing the plants. A soil test will provide you with the information you need to create a healthy soil environment that will promote optimal plant development.

What Does a Soil Test Show?

A soil test may reveal the present fertility and health of your soil. A soil test may offer the information needed to maintain optimum fertility each year by measuring pH and diagnosing nutrient deficiencies. Most plants, including grasses, flowers, and vegetables, thrive on slightly acidic soil (6.0–6.5). Others, such as azaleas, gardenias, and blueberries, need a higher acidity level to grow. As a result, a soil test may help you establish the present acidity level and make the necessary modifications. It will also help you to address any shortcomings that may exist.

How Often Do You Do a Soil Test?

Soil samples may be collected at any time of year, although autumn is best. They are typically taken yearly or as required. While many firms or gardening centres provide soil testing kits, you can typically get a soil test for free or at a reasonable cost from your local county extension office. Alternatively, you may ship a soil sample to UMASS Soil and Plant Tissue Testing Laboratory, and they will give you a soil report based on your test findings. Avoid testing the soil while it is damp or has been freshly fertilized. To collect a sample for testing garden soil, use a small trowel to cut thin slices of soil from different locations in the garden. Allow it to air dry at room temperature before placing it in a clean plastic container or Ziploc bag. Label the soil area and date of testing. Now that you understand the necessity of soil testing, you can better manage your garden plants by making the necessary modifications based on the findings of the soil test. Test your garden soil now to eliminate the guesswork associated with fertilization.

Types Of Soil Tests

The kind of study is determined by the components or features of the field ground investigated that may have a positive or negative influence on crop growth. The most often used kinds examine and quantify:

Soil Nutrient Testing

Valuable nutrient content data enables correct fertilization to satisfy plant demands in precision agriculture installations. This is why the chemical test for soil nutrients is the most popular.

Soil tests primarily assess the levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), the three most critical nutrients for crops. Secondary nutrients to investigate include calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), and magnesium (Mg). An extended test covers minor elements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mg), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), and others.

To determine soil nutrient content, a sample is added to an extractant solution and shaken. The liquid content is next filtered and tested for the presence and concentration of chemical components (dry matter). The resultant number is known as the soil-test index.

Soil Acidity Test (pH)

Proper pH in the field is critical for plant production; either too high or too low pH can harm crop development. Soil pH is determined by calculating its hydrogen ions. pH levels may vary from zero to fourteen. The neutral value is 7, with lower values representing acidity and higher ones indicating alkalinity. Acidic and alkaline areas are handled accordingly. For example, lime may be used to elevate pH, and a precise pH test can assist in calculating the amount necessary.

Soil Salinity Test

Plants in salty environments experience osmotic stress owing to inadequate water uptake. Soil salinity testing may assist in determining if a place is suitable for agricultural activity. Field salinity may be assessed using:

  • Methods include evaporating total soluble salts (TSS) from groundwater extracts and measuring electric conductivity (EC) in saturated paste extracts or distilled water-earth dilutions.
  • An electric conductivity soil test is conducted in the field or in an authorized laboratory.

Testing Soil For Pesticides and Contaminations

Pesticides aid in the control of harmful organisms that ruin crops. Chemicals are effective in controlling weeds, managing agricultural diseases, and combating pests. At the same time, such toxins harm non-target creatures and contaminate the environment. Highly toxic compounds drain into groundwater, persist in the soil for years, and affect people and animals by accumulating in food. Chemical pollutants impair yield quality; thus, it is critical to test the soil for pesticides before sowing and schedule future crop treatments depending on previous field operations and productivity.

Physical Soil Testing For Texture And Structure

Aside from chemical content, agricultural and horticulture soil testing examines the soil type and physical qualities such as texture, structure, and wetness.

The primary components are clay, sand, and silt, and their proportions determine the ground texture and capacity to hold nutrients and moisture. For example, sandy fields dry quicker than clay fields; therefore, a soil texture test aids in precise irrigation and fertigation planning.

Soil structure refers to the size of its components and pore spaces, which influence the movement of water and air in the ground. Clay fields are finer, with smaller pore spaces. As a result, they are susceptible to compaction and need constant aeration.

Soil Moisture Testing

Water is vital for plant development because vegetation cannot develop correctly in the absence of ground moisture. When the field's surface is dry, it may be seen visually; however, precise water rates are determined using soil moisture sensors or in the laboratory. A soil moisture content test determines if plants have enough water or whether they are dehydrated. The most common soil moisture test involves evaporating moisture from samples at high temperatures. Moisture rates in samples are calculated by measuring their mass before and after evaporation.

Checklist for Soil Testing

  • Conduct pre-plant media studies to identify possible nutritional deficits, pH imbalances, or excess soluble salts. This is especially critical for gardeners who prepare their own media.
  • Conduct media tests throughout the growing season to control crop nutrition and soluble salt levels.
  • To prevent inaccurate interpretation of results, interpretive data should always be utilized for the particular soil testing technique.
  • Collect a soil sample for testing around 2 hours after fertilization or on the same day. If slow-release fertilizer pellets are present, gently remove them from the sample.
  • Take soil samples from various crops cultivated in a greenhouse.
  • If a problem is being identified, collect samples from both normal and aberrant plants to compare.
  • Every time you test a sample, ensure that all sampling protocols are followed consistently.
  • Do not compare soil test results received from different laboratories. Testing procedures might differ.

Crop Monitoring by Corpbiz

To get excellent yields, check the moisture in the field before sowing and during the season. Our Crop Monitoring services enable you to examine the moisture levels in the surface and root zones remotely. Furthermore, historical data reveal the moisture level at each plant development stage. Farmers may use this data to estimate moisture deficits and make informed choices. Furthermore, Crop Monitoring aids in the identification of important zones, and further soil moisture measurement in these locations will reveal whether or not they are dehydrated.

How To Get The Soil Tested?

When deciding how to perform a soil test, you may pick from the following options:

  • You may do it yourself using specific equipment.
  • Submit samples for professional analysis to a state or private laboratory. Some local laboratories provide soil test techniques for free.
  • Hire a business that will manage the whole process, from sampling to field improvement suggestions.

How To Take Soil Samples For Testing

The soil analysis offers critical information for proper field treatment, but the accuracy of the findings is dependent on reliable sampling. The fundamental soil sampling techniques are based on grids and zones.

Grid Sampling

This approach is based on evenly spaced grids of one to five acres. The narrower the grid, the more accurate the results. The number of subsamples required increases as the grid size grows. A one-acre grid cell, for example, needs a minimum of five subsamples, but five-acre grids should collect up to 10 subsamples. Grid soil sampling offers geographical information about the field, but it ignores ground variability.

Zone Soil Sampling

This strategy involves collecting average samples from each field zone. The field is separated into zones depending on crop maps or soil type. Each zone has comparable circumstances, thus their number and extent are determined by their variability. Typically, the size ranges from two to 10 acres. The greater the zone, the more soil test probes are needed (at least five subsamples for each zone, two per acre).

Agronomic soil testing provides precise information on field health, but other data sources may offer even more insights. Here is when Corpbiz Crop Monitoring's Zoning function comes in handy. The platform's satellite-based productivity maps display field variability using vegetation indices, allowing for more accurate mapping of diverse sample zones. This combination aids in making judgments on required chemical inputs based not only on vegetation status but also on the individual features of each zone.

The field on the screen above is split into five zones according to the NDVI index. According to the map, samples should be collected from various zones of the field with minimal vegetation, with a focus on Zones 3 and 4. The "Lower vegetation" zone is red since it is the field's border and nothing grows there; Zone 2 is quite tiny, therefore there is no use in collecting samples. Fertilizer application recommendations are filled up for each zone based on vegetation levels.

Soil Testing For Agriculture-Related Businesses with Corpbiz

Timely field health analysis helps avoid economic and ecological hazards not just in farming but across the agriculture industry.

Agriculturalists can improve farm performance by avoiding crop diseases, agri-coops can monitor member productivity, input suppliers can understand product demand, crop insurance companies can validate claims with proper field maintenance, and banks can prioritize agricultural loans.

Soil samples and testing are also required when purchasing a new field or determining land use. Nutrient analysis helps to maintain long-term field fertility, which contributes to sustainable agriculture.

Corpbiz Crop Monitoring does not directly test soil but rather aids in preliminary situation assessment remotely, eliminating the need to collect samples across the field. Thus, vegetation maps on the platform highlight the essential zones. The scouts are then assigned assignments under the Scouting section, which include specific places for sampling. Furthermore, Corpbiz's Crop Monitoring effectively combines soil test findings with historical crop production data, tracking yield declines or increases year after year - all in one spot.

Frequently Asked Questions

A soil test is a chemical technique that removes elements from soil (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, salt, sulfur, manganese, copper, and zinc) and measures their "plant available" amount within the sample.

Chemical analysis includes determining the soil's nutrient content, pH, and other chemical qualities. This may be accomplished by a variety of methods, including wet chemistry, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry. Physical analysis includes determining the soil's texture, structure, and other physical features.

Soil testing involves four steps: 1) collecting soil samples, 2) analyzing them in a laboratory, 3) interpreting the findings, and 4) making fertilizer or other management suggestions.

Most soils have pH levels ranging from 3.5 to 10. Soils in heavier rainfall locations have a natural pH range of 5 to 7, but in dry places, it goes from 6.5 to 9.

Most plants grow when the soil pH ranges between 6.2 and 6.8. pH measures a material's acidity and alkalinity. The pH ranges from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (extremely alkaline), with seven being neutral.

A soil with a calcium base saturation level of 65-75%, a magnesium level of 10-18%, and a potassium level of 35% gives the optimum possibility for all nutrients in the soil to be accessible, as well as strong soil structure, water-holding capacity, and microbial activity.

Soil sample and analysis offer chemical and physical information on the soil's quality. Soil testing is the process of analyzing soil samples to evaluate their properties, such as texture, stability, plant nutrients, fertility, acidity or alkalinity, toxicities, and pollutants.

Soil analysis refers to a series of chemical methods that evaluate not only the quantity of accessible plant nutrients in the soil but also the chemical, physical, and biological soil qualities that are significant for plant nutrition.

The soil-testing program's primary goal is to provide farmers with a service that leads to improved and more cost-effective fertilizer usage as well as better soil management methods for increased agricultural productivity.

The purpose of soil testing is to offer an accurate evaluation of the soil's fertility in order to provide fertilizer recommendations. With growing awareness of fertilizer's impact on environmental quality, soil testing may also be used to identify where fertilizers or manure should not be applied.

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