It is time to start thinking about soil testing!
Regular observation and monitoring of soil chemical, physical and biological status is the cornerstone of Fert$mart. Know your soils, know your farm!
Fert$mart uses the principle of soil testing Farm Management Zones (FMZ). These are areas of your farm which share similar physical characteristics and you manage in a similar way. It is best practice to soil test a representative paddock within each FMZ every 2-3 years.
Expect to pay around $100-$200 per soil sample, depending on number of samples, type of analysis and sampling costs. Money invested in soil testing can potentially save many thousands in fertiliser and grow more grass. Skimping on soil testing is false economy.
Plan your soil testing program with your agronomist and maintain over time, according to your plan.
Best Practice Tips
- For consistency over time, sample at the same time of the year
- Avoid sampling within 3 months of liming or 2 months of applying fertiliser
- In cooler regions, soils are typically sampled from late spring to autumn. Warmer regions should be sampled to suit farming activities
- Be organised and get your samples done well in time so that you can book in the fertiliser spreader
- Dairy pastures are typically sampled to 10 cm depth, although some farms (especially in Tasmania) have historically been sampled to 7.5 cm
- Take a minimum of 30 cores per paddock to form a composite sample, with the required amount for the lab being taken from the aggregated and mixed 30 core “bulk” sample
- Complete sample information forms as required by laboratory, keep samples cool and Express Post to laboratory for soil analysis
- Use a NATA or ASPAC accredited laboratory as these labs have procedures for quality assurance and cross-checking analytical results. Click here for ASPAC accredited labs, or click here for NATA accredited labs.
- Ideally, use the same lab over time for consistency in analysis. Costs and turnaround time are important decisions in choosing which laboratory to use
- Keeping track of your soil test results is important. Often a colour-coded map is s a good way to visualise fertility across the farm. Your Fert$mart adviser can do this for you, or you can easily do this yourself with coloured pens.
- Keep your soil tests in a safe place and use them to build a picture over time of how fertility is changing on different parts of the farm. Many agronomists now use commercial software packages to track soil test results for their clients.
Visit Fert$mart for more information.
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