Mar 07, 2023

CAMPBELL: It’s soil sampling time for summer crops and forages

Posted Mar 07, 2023 1:00 AM
written by: Stacy Campbell - Cottonwood Extension District
written by: Stacy Campbell - Cottonwood Extension District

If there was a simple $25 add on that could be purchased at the automotive parts store, installed in less than 1 hour, with a tool as simple as a screwdriver, that would guarantee an improvement in fuel efficiency of your cars, trucks, and tractors? Would you do it?

For the soil on your property, soil testing could be considered that miracle product. Using a simple soil probe, it takes about 30 minutes to collect a good sample, one trip to town to deliver it to the Extension Office, Coop or ag retailer, it costs about $25, and it will guarantee an improvement in crop production efficiency each growing season, before it needs to be “replaced”. You would think the extension office, Coops or ag retailers would be inundated with samples every spring, but unfortunately that is not the case.

Several surveys from past years in the Southern & Great Plains have continued to show that an overall small percentage of farmers soil test regularly, and some of those don’t even follow the soil test recommendation once it is received.

Nothing that could be done offered a greater return on investment than what is possible from a $25 soil test. Especially following a low yielding, drought that we experienced last year. Logic would tell us that there should be left-over fertilizer from the last growing season. The only way to know how much, is to properly take soil samples.

The folks who study the adaptation of new technology would tell you that some will study their lesson, decide and quickly move toward early implementation of new technology. Some will watch closely until they see it is successful with others and then move toward implementation. Others will implement the new technology when they determine it is critical for their survival. And a last group will implement a new technology only when it becomes legally mandated.

So, even if there was a cheap, simple add on that guaranteed to increase fuel efficiency there would still be those who would not make the effort to change. After decades of promoting soil testing I guess those of us who work in Extension Education and the commercial ag industry have witnessed this same reluctance to adapt a proven technology.

But even after decades of promoting soil testing we won’t give up. Call your local county or district extension office, Coop or ag retailer for more information about the benefits of soil testing.

Stacy Campbell is a Crop Production Extension agent in the Cottonwood District (which includes Barton and Ellis counties) for K-State Research and Extension. You can contact him by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 785-628-9430.