Interpreting Soil Test Results for Better Farming Decisions

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9 Apr 245m 0sPremium Content

Kevin Matthews takes you through the results of his soil test, translating the complexities of soil management into actionable insights for boosting crop yields. Delving into the intricacies of balancing nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) based on the results.

Sitting here looking at soil samples today, trying to decide, you know, when do we have enough fertility? Do we need to add some more? Um, okay, our grower standard is we run X number of pounds of PX number of pounds of K and we're, we're always going to run these type products. That's just what we do. We get these questions a lot. So I'm sitting here looking, when's enough, enough? So let's talk about our phosphorus and let's talk about our potassium. 'cause there's some big things. Our nitrogen, you need to be about 0.6 to 0.8 pounds per harvested bushel as where I like to come in at. Um, you know, if you're at one pound in your area, maybe that's what works for you. When you're applying your nitrogen, you always want to know what your CEC of the soil is, your cation exchange, and whatever that number is, you multiply it times 10, and that's the most units in nitrogen you should ever put out at one application. Otherwise, you need to split those applications, be sustainable. So if I have a CEC of say 10, then I know a hundred pounds is the most I need to put out per individual application. Otherwise, it's going to lead, it's going to go up, out, down somewhere. It is just not gonna be there for the plants and you're wasting money. It's totally against that. It's not efficient, it's not good sound practice. It shouldn't be done that way. So now let's look at our phosphorus. So how much phosphorus at one time should I put out? You know, when's enough enough? I've got 60 pounds, 67 pounds per acre available phosphorous. That's not enough. I, I'm gonna have to have some more to grow a crop with the yields that we want to get. This particular farm, generally 180, 220 bushels. Dry land corn, soybeans is usually anywhere from 75 bushels up to a hundred bushels. Pretty much what? Soybeans a really good farm. So we have to add. But if, let's say that number was at, we had 200 pounds at end the soil. So at 200 pounds in the soil, I would not be buying and putting no more phosphorous out. Put some products out there. There's a lot of companies that's got 'em. Some of 'em in extreme ag we found works very, very well. But get products out there that can make that phosphorus available to the plant. It's in the soil. Make it available. So now let's go to potassium or potassium. Generally, you need as much potassium as you do nitrogen. On most crops, it's, it is one that gets overlooked a lot of times. But when do we need to start applying? When should we not apply On this particular farm? I'm looking at it. I got 'em from 243 pounds available in the soil to over 600 pounds available in the soil. 600. I don't need to be applying. So 400 is my number. If I've got 400 pounds available in the soil, I don't need to be putting potassium out there. I need to be using more products that will make out Potassium available. But the caveat, the number one thing you always remember when you're looking at this is, let's go back to our soil pH. What is your soil pH? I personally like a 6.5, 6.6 on the high side. I'm happy with the 6.4, but we normally have low pH soils on our farms. So we want to get that pH balanced. That is your first checkbox. Balance your pH. Some places is this extremely high pH and it's very hard to balance. I get it. But then next is our calcium to our magnesium. We're typically very high mag soils when we work very, very hard on this farm over the years. And we've been able to flip it to where now we're, our calcium is seven times our mag. And this farm is doing phenomenally much better than it did before. 'cause when your mag is real high, that's where you got bricks and clay and the roots cannot penetrate, the water cannot percolate. It's just not productive for growing crops. But we gotta deal with what the Lord give us in the area that we farm. So you can change that calcium. The mag, we've been very blessed. We've been working aggressively. We've used gypsum, we've used poultry litter, we've used calic lime because we're low pH. That makes it really easy for us guys with high pH. Then that's where your gypsums going to come into play. So where's enough, enough phosphorus? If you've got 200 pounds available in your soils, you don't need, in my opinion, you don't need to be buying any more. Just make it available. Plant available. Potassium, 400 pounds. Those are the numbers. And if you can balance your pH, balance your pH. Again, I get it. Some places can. Some can't know your CEC. That is by far the rule book on how much nitrogen you can apply per application. I hope this helps you a little bit, but this is how I look at my soil samples.

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