Farmers looking for ways to control crop production costs and add to their bottom lines use soil sampling as the basis for their crop fertility programs. If the late harvest and early freeze meant that soil sampling didn’t get done last fall, there is still time this spring to take samples for a 2015 crop fertility program.

“Profit margins will be tight over the next few years and farmers are being pressed to optimize inputs in order to protect margins,” says Jim Friedericks, Ph.D., laboratory manager at AgSource Laboratories in Ellsworth, Iowa.  “Soil sampling is the foundation for a well-planned fertilizer management program and a tool for tracking your fertility program’s long-term success. This works for samples taken in spring or fall.”

University research from Iowa and Minnesota shows that there is little significant difference in spring and fall soil testing results. Friedericks notes that spring post-plant soil sampling is increasingly popular with AgSource clients. The key, he says, to any sampling program is consistently year after year. Post-plant sampling generally takes place May through June, testing just the top six inches of soil during the early growth of the crop.

“While there are seasonal and annual variations whenever we sample, experience at AgSource suggests several benefits to spring sampling,” relates Friedericks. “These include the ability to get better core consistency in the spring and avoiding fall fertilizer application delays after harvest.”

 “We never can have too much data when soil testing. Our ability to predict what’s in between your sampling points increases as you take more samples.  Good sample collection begins the process and that’s something farmers should insist on from their consultants and agronomist. Laboratory quality assures results and our AgSource laboratories can deliver that quality.”

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