Soil testing is a beneficial process for agricultural operations. The results obtained through testing will help you determine the best approach for increasing yields from your farm or garden. Also, you will be able to identify the source of problems if production has been poor. In addition, this is an ideal way to monitor a farm for long-term use.
Unfortunately, the results yielded from soil testing can be compromised by poor sampling. If the samples sent to a laboratory are not truly representative of your land, the analysed data will not provide actionable information.
Here are some simple tips for collecting good soil samples.
Consider Site and Timing
It is advisable to consider the best time period for sampling the soil on your farm. The ideal time will depend on your geographic location, farm usage and the season. In general, sampling should be done when the general conditions are favourable. This means that the soil should not be too wet or dry. You should plan on sampling before treating the land with manure, commercial fertiliser or even lime. This will affect the quality of the results. It is also important to choose sites without significant irregularities. Simply speaking, avoid unusual sites like dead furrows, manure storage areas and waterways.
Choose Suitable Tools
Good tools are essential for collecting quality samples for soil testing. Poor choice of equipment will compromise the viability of the samples, and subsequently, the validity of the results. Where possible, soil should be collected using a quality probe. Avoid using common tools like spades because these make it difficult to obtain clean soil at the predetermined depth. The chosen probe should be made from a material like chrome. Do not use tools that could affect the properties of the soil, like general galvanised tools. Also, look for quality clean bags in which to place the soil. You can obtain these from your selected testing lab.
Ensure Depth Consistency
The sampling depth should be consistent for all samples to ensure that the results are accurate and valid. Variations in depth could produce results that might lead to wrong decision making. Therefore, it is important to mark the desired depth on your probe before beginning. The optimal measurement will depend on the standards upheld in your geographic area, the potential use of land and the specific approach to farming. When collecting the soil, keep the probe upright and never tilted to ensure the depth is ideal. If you are uncertain about any aspect of the work, consult your testing lab for guidance.