Pulling Food Plot Soil Sample
By: Rans Thomas, Thomas Resources, Wildlife & Land Enhancement, Inc.
Contributor to StickemArchery.com
I often get questions about what type of fertilizer to use on a food plot. This is a very common question but requires an indirect answer. In order to know what fertilizer blend you need to apply for your plots and crops you MUST know what is missing in the soil. The direct answer to the question can be found by taking SOIL SAMPLES! The information you will obtain from a soil sample will ensure you get the correct type and amounts of fertilizers for your plots. You need to turn to your County Agricultural Extension Agency for assistance with this process. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/.
Below are some steps that you can follow in order to get a proper Soil Sample. This is a step that is often over looked but can make the difference in having a good yield vs. a poor yield. If you are going to invest “sweat” and “financial” equity in your food plot then this is an essential step to make sure you get the most out of your investment. .
1. Pull several divots (samples) across your food plot – less for small plots and more for large plots. Samples should be 6-8 inches deep. (Ensure you use a sterile soil probe tool or shovel to obtain the sample). Pull samples from across the plot in an evenly distributed manner.
2. Put the samples in a clean or sterile bucket and then mix together
3. Put the Soil Samples in the provided soil bag and fill out the information required. Use a numbering system for the plots such as 1 through 10 or A to J. Do not put the name of the food plot, i.e. “Swamp Plot” or “Drop Tine Plot”. Keep a record of what plot each number represents.
4. Some samples ask for a crop. Because this is an agricultural service for farm crops you should go with a crop similar to what you are planting for wildlife, i.e. for lablab write soybeans on the bag or box.
5. Submit the samples (bags or boxes) to the County Extension Office where you got them from. Sample analysis generally costs from $5 to $10 per sample. The soil report will be sent to you in a week or two.
6. The report will indicate the soil PH. This is VERY important, even more so than fertilizer because if the soil is acidic (PH level of 4 – 5) the fertilizer you use will be bound up in the soil and plants can’t utilize it leading to a weak crop and wasted money on fertilizer. Evaluate the PH levels (Acidic or Alkaline). You want to keep the PH level between 6.5 and 7.5, which is considered “neutral”. Applying lime will raise the PH levels and your soil samples will tell you how much lime needs to be applied in tons/acre. 1 – 2 tons is not uncommon for acidic soils.
7. Now the answer: soil sample report fertilizer recommendations will focus on Nitrogen (N), Phosphate (P) and Potash (K). These are the nutrients that make up the formula for different fertilizer blends, i.e. 10-10-10. The nutrient levels in the soil will be indicated (low, medium, high) in the report and the pounds per acre needed for each will also be provided. Your local Co-op or fertilizer dealer can help you choose the appropriate fertilizer blend and rate for your crop based on the soil sample report.
Originally posted 2010-01-13 20:55:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter