Given some of the online conversations I have participated in, it has become clear to me that I haven't discussed the importance of soil testing and the application of amendments as required. Although it is the middle of the summer and my plots are growing well, I thought this would be a good time to discuss soil tests. I want to illustrate the fact I follow a diligent process to ensure good soils for growing forage.
I usually take my samples in February or early March. Although the weather often does not cooperate, there are ways to take the samples in the dead of winter. Once the samples are dried out, I package them up and submit to a certified lab. This year I used A&L Great Lakes Laboratories for the first time. I was please with how they do business (no they are not a sponsor). Attached are screen shots of my sample results from this year and the recommended fertilizer and micronutrients to be applied.
I have also attached an Excel Spreadsheet that shows the annual testing results and the graphs to help understand the performance of my soils. As you can see, the work in '12 helped improve the soils. The graphs show an up swing in all of the major categories: ph, N, K, and P. You can bank soil amendments as I did in '12. This reduced the amount of fertilizer and lime needed for planting this year. No lime was needed based on the results. The fertilizer applied was 200# per acre of DAP and 800# of Potash. For the micronutrients, I was not successful in finding a local agronomy plant that could provide these when needed. Given it was the middle of the spring and the farmers are bigger customers, I was happy I could get a wagon of DAP and Potash. Thus, the reason I tried the GroPal spray foliar. I wanted to improve the micronutrients.
If you are reading this, my guess is that you have already heard the news about how important soil testing is to a food plot program or any agricultural field. I can't express how important these results are to me each year. I almost get as excited about receiving my soil analysis results as pulling trail camera cards. It marks the beginning of a new season that eventually leads to October 1st. If you are not taking soil samples regularly, you are missing the boat. Keep reading up on this topic and start your program next winter. Below is a good report that may help.
Andy Hayes is a devoted husband and father of 4 kids living in West Central Indiana. Outside of his family, his passion is hunting whitetails. He does not claim to be a professional hunter, but simply wants to share what he learns during his quest to improve whitetail habitat and hunt mature bucks.