Soil testing for prescription fertilize application pays good returns per acre in fertilize savings as well as production yields. If you do not soil test and fertilize, your hay fields like many of you have for years with 300 lb. 19-19-19 per acre, your cost in 2013 will be $88.32 per acre based on prices on Jan. 2.
If you soil test to determine the amount of phosphorus and potassium in the soil as well as the pH, savings can result. If your pH is to low, you will not receive very good benefits from fertilization anyway. By soil testing you will find out how much lime, phosphorus, and potassium is needed.
Examples of savings that can result:
1) If a soil test shows a medium level of phosphorus and potassium in a grass hay field the recommended level of fertilization would cost $63.71 per acre, a savings of $24.61 per acre.
2) If a soil test shows a medium level of phosphorus and a high level of potassium in a grass hay field the recommended level of fertilization would cost $49.21 per acre, a savings of $39.11 per acre.
3) If a soil test shows a high level of phosphorus and a medium level of potassium in a grass hay field the recommended level of fertilization would cost $49.28 per acre, a savings of $39.04 per acre.
4) If a soil test shows a high level of phosphorus and a high level of potassium in a grass hay field the recommended level of fertilization would cost $34.78 per acre, a savings of $53.54 per acre.
These savings are the result of fertilize requirements based on soil test results compared to a rate of 300 lb. 19-19-19 per acre with no soil test to go by. Prices of fertilize was based on the local prices of bulk fertilize on Jan. 2. Current prices of bulk fertilize ingredients are Urea- $535/ton, DAP- $650/ton, 60 percent Potash-$580/ton, 19-19-19-$588.81/ton. Fertilization by needs of the crop will be even more important this year. If you have a low soil pH and do not correct this problem, then you do not get full benefit of the fertilizer you apply. Fertilize prices have increased over 300 percent in the last 10 years and hay prices today are around the same as 10 years ago. So, Soil Test It Pays. Co-Op fertilize sale prices are currently available and usually last for two weeks.
From Sept. 1, 2010 through Aug. 31, 2011, there had only been 55 soil tests taken in Claiborne County for forages. Of those samples 43.1 percent needed lime applied; 54 percent needed phosphorus applied; and only 61 percent needed potassium applied. This is another reason to soil test to find out exactly what fertilizer ingredients you need to apply to help save money on fertilizer costs. The soil test fee is $7 per sample. Sample boxes and forms can be found at the County Extension Office. Call 626-3742 for more information.
Correct Soil Sampling
Soil test results can be no better than the sample collected. Thus, each soil sample submitted should be representative of the area for which fertilizer recommendations are to be made. A composite sample should be collected, consisting of small portions of soil taken from approximately 20 locations in a given field. The 20 sub-samples for pasture and hay fields should be taken from soil surface to six inches of depth, field crop sub-samples should be taken from surface to six inches in depth. Areas of contrasting soils, problem spots or portions of fields where crop response is significantly different should be sampled separately, provided the area can be fertilized separately. Field size per sample should be limited to 10 acres. Remove organic debris, rocks, and trash from the soil before placing in soil sample box. Use a plastic bucket to place sub-samples in and when all sub-samples are collected transfer the soil to a plastic bag. If the soil is wet, spread in out on newspaper so it can dry prior to filling the soil sample box. Samples are easier taken with a soil probe that we have available here at the County Extension Office. We loan out the soil probe with you making a $20 deposit that is refunded with return of soil probe. Samples can be taken at any time of year, but right now it will take approximately 8 to 14 days to get your results back after you place samples in the mail. Don’t guess - soil test.