There's a lot your dirt can tell you.
Good grass and abundant crops start with healthy soil. If you are curious if your pastures are reaching their capabilities or are limited due to lack of nutrients, or if you are having issues with crops or are establishing new beds or orchards, it is time to test your soil.
Agricultural Soil Test Program Specifics:
Depending on the District, eligible landowners may be able to receive a free soil test if they sign up for a site visit with a Farm/Resource Planner.
Once test results are received, a follow-up consultation and nutrient management plan may be provided. Soil tests are conducted seasonally during spring and early fall depending on what you want to know:
Spring soil tests tell you what nutrients are needed for crop establishment or pasture health for the coming growing season. Fall soil tests tell you what your crop has used over the growing season and if you are efficiently applying nutrients in the spring. Fall tests can also tell you if you’ve over-applied during the growing season and are at risk for nutrient runoff once the fall/winter rains arrive.
The most common nutrients tested for are: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Tests also usually include organic matter, and pH.
Most labs also send out a recommendation of what is needed to meet your production goals. However, most Districts should be able to walk you through your lab results. It’s important to know and understand the results of your soil sample, as well as build a relationship with either your farm planner or your soil lab.