Recent developments in soil testing, plus challenges to longstanding tests raise the question, how confident are farmers that their soil tests represent their fields? Three farmers share their takes:
Jim Darnell, Scottsbluff, Neb.
My fertilizer company does my soil testing. I’ve been with them about 35 years so we’ve built up a mutual trust. I rely on them to follow all the recommendations for soil sampling. I do also talk with Gary Hergert, a soils expert from the University of Nebraska. Sometimes I’ve taken the soil tests to Gary, and we’d sit down and go over them. We’d talk about the results, and also about how and when to apply the fertilizer.
We’re all irrigated here.
We take random samples, testing every field at least every 3 years. Some people geo-reference their soil samples, and that looks like a good idea that I might try.
I did some grid sampling about 10 years ago, and then tried variable-rate fertilizer following the recommendations. But the extra cost for that wasn’t justified in any yield increases, so I stopped doing that.