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Fall Soil Testing

By: Ken Panchuk, PAg, Provincial Specialist, Soils

Automated hydraulic soil probe
Using an automated, hydraulic soil probe
makes soil sampling easier and faster.
At mid-October some crop is still in the field and a break in the weather is needed to complete harvest and to get on with fall field work such as soil testing and fall banding. The recent rain and wet snow has replenished the subsoil moisture. Most of the grainbelt now has enough subsoil moisture recharge for a good to excellent start for the 2017 growing season. Now the focus should be on determining what level of nutrients are needed for the next growing season. The first step is soil testing, followed by crop planning for realistic yields and then fall banding, if that is part of your production practice.

The soil temperature has cooled well below 10 C already, slowing the soil microbial activity. Even if there are a few warm days later this fall, there will be a minimal change in nutrient levels between fall and next spring. Soil tests done at this time will be valuable for crop planning over the winter months, as the soil test results will still be relevant come spring.

The soil test labs have now geared up for rapid turnaround times to get information back in time for fall banding of urea and anhydrous ammonia and for booking nutrient supplies for next year’s crop.  

Fall soil testing is an important step in the industry-led 4R nutrient stewardship principles: the Right Source applied at the Right Rate, Right Time and Right Placement.

For more information on soil testing contact a Saskatchewan soil testing lab, your nearest input dealer, a Regional Crops Specialist, or the Agriculture Knowledge Center at 1-866-457-2377. 

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