The winter time of the year is a good time to get
your pasture or garden soil tested for its pH level and for soil nutrients. A
soil test allows you to know the acidity or alkalinity of your soil, the type
of nutrients that are available to plants, and can also be used as a guide in
determining fertilizer needs.
Fertilizer is organic or inorganic. Organic
fertilizers are made of manures, compost, bone meal, cotton seed or other
natural materials. Inorganic fertilizers are made of man-made products. If you
decide to use inorganic fertilizers, remember that excess fertilizers in the
soil can contribute to water quality issues in your well water and in nearby
creeks, rivers and lakes.
I recently did a soil test of 1 acre on my farm.
This acre is where I plan to grow grapes that are native to Texas. I had the
good fortune of having a neighbor who gave me some native Texas grapes at the
end of summer and I made jelly and 6 gallons of homemade wine out of them. So
naturally I fell in love with the native grapes and had to grow my own. Before
I could plant them I knew I needed to conduct a soil test.
There are 3 steps to follow in conducting a soil
a soil sample bag. You can get the soil bag and instructions from your local
state Department of Agriculture or your local county Cooperative Extension Agency.
soil samples. Dig to a depth of about 6 inches with a shovel in about 6 to 10
different areas, depending on the size of property, in the area you want to
sample. It is best to dig a V-shaped hole and take a 1 inch sample from the
smooth side of the hole. Place the sample in a clean plastic bucket or other
clean non metal container and mix the soil together thoroughly. It may be necessary
to let the soil air dry if the soil happen to be damp. Then fill the sample bag
to the required fill line with the thoroughly mixed soil.
the proper soil sample paperwork. Fill out the information on the soil sample
bag, complete the proper information sheet, send the necessary fee, and mail it
to the required agency.
Knowing the pH level and
the nutrients that are in my soil will help me to produce the best crop
possible. Soil testing should be done every 2 to 3 years.
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