Farm Facts and Furrows

By OMAFRA Ag Rep Brian Bell

Soil testing

Take soil samples from your fields (0-15 cm soil depth for basic soil tests and micronutrients, and 0-30 cm for nitrate nitrogen and sulphur) if you haven’t done the soil tests for the last three years. Go for micronutrients tests, especially for zinc and boron, if you haven’t tested your soils for micronutrients in the recent past. Remember sustaining crop yields with the application of NPK fertilizers alone isn’t possible any more. You may wish to test alfalfa, soybean, canola and corn fields for nitrogen and sulphur too, as soon as the soil temperature comes to 10-14°C or below, so that you are able to discount some residual/or fixed N from these crops next spring. At low temperatures, there is no significant transformation/or losses of nutrients. For details on soil sampling and testing, refer to Agronomy Guide for Field Crops (Section Soil Testing: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub811/9soil.htm or Soil Fertility Guide. The economic and environmental benefits from a sound fertilizer program, based on soil tests, could be many times the cost of soil testing. If you don’t have time for soil sampling yourself, look for someone providing custom soil sampling/testing services to producers in your area at a reasonable cost.

Manure testing

Fertilizers are one of the costliest inputs for crop production. Test manure for its nutrients content to decide on the right rates of manure and fertilizers application to minimize costs on nutrients application/and environmental impacts, and to obtain maximum economic yields. Following two links could be useful for (i) manure sampling and analysis and (ii) manure management: www.millstonenj.gov/Manure%20Sampling%20and%20 Analysis.pdf and http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub811/9manure.htm for manure management.