A soil test is an excellent measure of soil fertility. It is a tool to be used as part of a total program. The Albrecht method of testing is from the renowned PhD, Dr. William Albrecht of the University of Missouri.
What you want is a reliable test that is water soluble to give immediate availability to the plant. We also assess micronutrients as part of the test results you receive.
The nutrients you need are becoming very expensive. Make sure you put only what you need to satisfy the plant and/or rebuild the soils.
Remember: Minerals in soil + availability to plant = the importance for plant & soil viability.
Submitting Soil Samples to the Lab
Within the United States:
1. Submit samples in soil bags available from Logan Labs.
2. Clearly mark each bag with your name, date and field/sample number.
3. Fill out the Soil Lab Submittal form and include them with your samples.
4. Samples should be dry or moist.
Submitting Soil from outside the United States
1. Shipments should be in sturdy leakproof containers and should contain soil or compost ONLY. Plants, fruit, roots, leaves or any other plant material is prohibited.
2. Packages should be labeled "Contents... Soil Samples."
3. Samples need to be shipped directly to the Logan Labs. Do not send them to one of our representatives even if you are working with one of them.
Procedures for Taking Soil Samples
If a soil test is to be a reliable guide for the addition of fertilizers or lime, the sample tested must represent the soil of the field sampled. (i.e. If the field has 80% of one soil type and 20% of another soil type, the sample should contain the same percentages of each soil.) Read and follow applicable instructions carefully; the laboratory results will tell you only what is in the sample you send. It is the sample taker's responsibility to take a truly representative and unbiased sample of the field area in question.
1. Soils that differ in soil type, appearance, crop growth, or past treatment should be sampled separately, provided the area can be treated separately. A soil map or crop response map can be of help in distinguishing areas and in recording location of samples.
2. Several different tools - such as an auger, a soil sampling tube, or a spade - may be used in taking soil samples, as illustrated below.
*We recommend using a soil probe for consistency. Place a tapeline on the probe at 6 3/4" to maintain depths.
*If using a shovel, please make sure to use a shovel free of rust and contaminants. If possible, use soil for samples that hasn't contacted rusty tools directly. I.e. take soil sample from opposite side of the "V" created by shovel
3. Scrape away surface litter. If an auger or soil sampling tube is used, obtain a small portion of soil by making a boring about 6-7 inches deep (4 in. if in pastures), or if plowing or tilling deeper, sample to tillage depth. If a tool such as a spade is used, dig a V-shaped hole to sample depth; then cut a thin slice of soil from one side of the hole. It is important to have equal representation of the top inch, middle inch, and bottom inch of the soil profile.
4. Avoid areas or conditions that are different, such as areas where fertilizer or liming materials have been spilled, gate areas where livestock have congregated, poorly drained areas, dead furrows, tillage or fertilizer corners, or fertilizer band areas of last year's crops. It is also advisable to stay at least 50 feet from barns, roads, lanes, or fence rows.
5. Because of soil variations, it is necessary that each sample consist of small portions of soil obtained from approximately 15 locations in a 40-acre field, as illustrated by the diagram. After obtaining these portions of soil, mix them together for a representative sample. Dry samples and place 6 oz to 8 oz (1 cup) of soil in soil sample container. It is important to use a plastic bucket to collect the samples. Metal or galvanized buckets may contaminate the sample for trace element purposes. Many operators make one good composite sample from each field, as they prefer to treat on a field by field basis.
The above method of sampling will give an average field fertility value. Where soil is extremely varied, and especially where land leveling has been done, or erosion and deposition are severe, the field should be checked on a grid or incremental unit basis.
8. After the sample has been taken, the soil sample bag should be clearly marked with your name, your address, and the sample number. Keep a record for yourself of the area represented by each sample.
9. If recommendations are desired, fill out the green information sheets as completely as possible since this information is very important in making recommendations. Be sure the sample numbers on the information sheets correspond with the numbers on the sample bags.
SAMPLING SOIL FOR TRACE ELEMENT ANALYSIS
Due to the greater possibility of contamination in soil sampling for micro nutrient analysis, some special precautions are suggested.
1. Where zinc, iron, or copper analyzes are desired, care should be taken not to use any galvanized, soft steel or brass equipment.
2. Be extremely careful to avoid any fertilizer dust contamination.
3. The safest general equipment found for micro nutrient sampling consists of stainless steel or chrome-plated soil probe, clean plastic bucket for placing and mixing soil cores, and plastic or poly-lined sample bags for drying and shipping samples. Clean cloth bags or paper sacks have been reported as being satisfactory, however, we do not recommend their use unless plastic lined.
What is Soil Compaction?
Soil compaction is the single most difficult and harmful environmental or abiotic condition that a plant can experience.
Soil Compaction is compression of the soil resulting in: reduced soil pore space (the spaces between soil particles); decreased movement of water and air into and within the soil; decreased soil water storage; and increased surface runoff and erosion. The use of heavy machinery during forest operations contributes to soil compaction.
Restricts root growth, which reduces the uptake of water and nutrients by plants and consequently plant growth/yields Decreases soil pore sizes, this affected the water holding capacity of the soil and the activity levels of soil microorganisms leading to decreasing rates of soil organic matter decomposition and hence the availability of nutrients for uptake by plants Decreases infiltration rates, thus increasing the likelihood of run-off and the erosion and causes surface ponding.