The purpose of conducting a soil analysis is to assess the efficiency or deficiency of the available nutrients for crop growth and to monitor change brought about by farming practices.
Why should you test your soil?
Farm Assurance inspectors and inspecting bodies such as the Environment Agency are demanding more accurate fertiliser recommendations which must include and depend on the nutrients supplied by the soil.
Testing your soil regularly will give you the information you need to receive maximum yield from your crops without using over excessive product if it is not necessary.
How often should you test your soil?
The nutrients within the soil do not alter dramatically over short periods of time unless major changes to supply or demand are introduced. Additional sampling in between the guided frequency would be justified when you introduce new cropping or a new fertiliser policy.
The ‘Rules for farmers and land managers to prevent water pollution’ state that if you apply manufactured fertiliser or organic manure to cultivated land you must carry out soil tests. The soil tests must also be no more than 5 years old.
Cultivated agricultural land is both or one of the following:
- land you’ve ploughed, sowed or harvested at least once in the last year
- land where you’ve applied organic manure or fertiliser at least once in the last 3 years
Below is a table of how often CXCS would advise testing fields to acheive an adequate level of efficiency.
|Intensively used grassland
|General arable cropping
|Arable and grass systems
|Field vegetables and horticulture
Soil Testing Tips
- Use the same laboratory each time
- Sample at the same time of year
- Avoid sampling under extreme soil conditions, e.g. very dry soil or waterlogged ground