Here are a few tips for successful soil testing:
1. Standardize your testing. OSU extension recommends pulling soil tests a minimum of every three to four years in either the spring or fall. Be consistent with your season to gather the most accurate results.
2. When reading your soil test, know what unit the lab is reporting in. If you need to convert units, double parts per million to convert to pounds per acre.
3. Work to maintain sufficient nutrient ranges for maximum yield. Refer to the Tri-State Recommendations for ranges that are appropriate for your soil type.
4. Ideal sampling depth is 6 – 8 inches. Most of the nutrients are in the top 2 – 3 inches, so when you only sample the top soil, your results will be skewed and won’t represent true nutrient levels.
5. Scrape off any residue before you take your sample. You only want to send soil to the lab.
The time and financial investment in soil testing can appear to be a hassle, but in the end it is important to know where additional nutrients are or are not needed. This is a key part of Ohio farmers’ goal of achieving maximum yields with minimum risk of nutrient runoff. More at www.ohiowaterquality.org