Soil testing is a great way to measure its health and fertility. These tests are generally inexpensive, though well worth any cost, especially if you intend to build or grow healthy plants in your garden. So, how often should one perform a soil test, and what does a soil test show? Before a soil test is carried out, some samples should be taken. There should be at least 12 samples down to a 6-inch depth.
What is a soil test?
A routine soil test is an effective method of managing the mineral nutrition of your plants. This method is an affordable and quick way to determine the amount of soil nutrients (elements) and lead contamination. You take a sample of your soil and send it to a lab for analysis.
Why test the soil?
A soil test is essential for several reasons, including optimizing crop production, preventing contamination by runoff, helping diagnose plant culture problems, improving the growing media’s nutritional balance, and saving money by only applying the right amount of fertilizer.
People in the building and construction sectors, agricultural sector, and others often test soil from their fields, yards, gardens, and sports fields. These soil tests indicate the pH of the soil, as well as the amount of nutrients available to plants.
The soil pH is a measure of relative acidity. Many plants do not grow optimally in soils that are too acidic. Maine soils tend to be acid. Additionally, soil pH affects plant roots’ ability to absorb nutrients. In acidic soil, the elements are locked and can’t be released into the plant.
What does a soil test show?
A soil test will typically provide you with all components and characteristics of the soil. It gives you detailed information on the constituents of your soil and determines if the soil will work for what you intend for it to do. Your soil test report will usually provide you with the following valuable information.
- Your soil’s pH level – This demonstrates the acidity of the soil (pH level less than 6.7), alkaline (pH level greater than 7.3), or neutral (pH level 6.7 – 7.3). If the test results indicate that your soil is acidic, lime should be added. If your soil is alkaline, you need to add sulfur.
- Measures other nutrient and micronutrient levels – The report will highlight nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium levels in your soil.
- Sodium level – Too much sodium could diminish the grass plant’s growth because it is unable to take in salt nitrogen.
- Organic matter level – This dictates your soil’s fertility. Topdressing the area with compost is an excellent way to add organic matter back into the soil.
- Water holding capacity – Some soils like clay typically drain very slowly. On the other hand, sandy soil usually drains very quickly. Therefore, adding organic matter will alleviate this issue.
How often should soil be tested?
There is usually no definite answer to these questions. However, it is ideal to test your soil at least once every three years. The results of periodic tests will be handy when monitoring soil fertility changes. Furthermore, you may need to test more often if you have a problem area or have applied lots of nutrients. Some people test their soil yearly to save money on fertilizer, lime, and other soil amendments. How often you test the soil depends on your crop’s value and how closely you want to manage it.
Whether you want to do construction, design a garden, or create a field on your property, knowing the soil conditions is very important, especially in maintaining an existing lawn, planting a new lawn, and seeding or renovating an existing lawn. Having the right ingredients in your soil is vital in attaining your desired healthy, beautiful space. Taking the soil test is a worthwhile investment in terms of your effort, time, and other resources.
Even though there are now soil testing kits that help you test your soils yourself, hiring the services of soil testing experts is still recommended. The reason is that sometimes, you may need more than just soil testing. For example, when your test result shows some contamination, you may not have the right knowledge to deal with the problem, which could be soil remediation. So before you finalize your site plans and sign the dotted line on your building, garden or field, ensure you contact the necessary professionals to book in your soil testing. Meridian Environmental Services can perform soil testing in a professional and efficient manner. Contact us today and you will not regret it.