SoilOptix® Blog

An In-depth Understanding on Soil Analysis and Testing for Agriculture

Soil analysis is a series of various chemical processes that determine the amount of plant nutrients available in the soil and the chemical, physical and biological soil properties essential for plant nutrition. Chemical soil analysis tests the content of plant nutrients; nitrogen (N), potassium (K 2 O), phosphorus (P2O5), pH, humus content, total CaCO3, available lime, organic matter, total sulphur (S), Sodium, micronutrients, and other physical characteristics like capacity, permeability, density, pH value.

Reasons for Doing Soil Analysis

  • To determine the availability of nutrients
  • To predict the increase in crop yields and profitability of fertilization.
  • To provide the basis for evaluating the necessary fertilizing of each crop.
  • To evaluate the status of each nutrient component and simultaneously determine how to manage those.
  • To improve economic planning and decision-making for a farmer.

According to the extent of nutrients in the soil obtained in soil analysis and the requirements of a specific crop, it is easier to determine the amount of essential fertilizers to achieve high and quality yields. Therefore, high-quality soil analysis is the basis of planning to fertilize and thus the quality of the entire production cycle, which results in better quality, higher yield, and more informed farm managerial decisions.

When is The Best Time to do a Soil Analysis?

Taking soil samples for analysis is extensively advised to be done after harvesting and before any fertilizing at the requisite soil moisture. The soil must not be tested along the sides of the field or where the mineral fertilizers are scattered unevenly because the sample will not be representative of the entire field, and the resulting data will not reflect the soil’s actual status in the whole area. In the case of permanent crops like orchards and vineyards, analysis is carried out periodically.

How to Properly Perform Sampling?

Soil samples are usually taken using an auger or probe, but can also be taken with a shovel. Important factors to consider when taking soil samples are:

Depth of Sampling

Depth of soil sampling is critical because the tillage and nutrient mobility in the soil layer can influence the nutrient levels in different soil zones. Therefore, sampling depth depends on the crop variants, cultural practices, tillage depth, and the nutrients that will be analyzed.

Soil Type

If a farm has different soil types, it is highly recommended that different samples from the different soil types be taken separately.

Previous Cropping

The previous crop that occupied the particular field should be considered. If different crops were in other areas, separate samples should also be taken from those various fields, and not one piece be taken for fields where different crops were grown.

Previous lime and or Fertilizer Applications

In a case where different fertilizer programs were being used for different fields, caution should be taken and adjustments should be made. The same should also be considered when taking samples for soil analysis by taking different soil samples separately for the different fields.

Slope or Topography of The Land

Different soil samples should be taken if, for example, a field part is steep while the other part is a gentle slope.
Soil biology is the missing link in moving soil nutrients to the plant. Running a functional soil health test like BeCrop Test with Biome Makers can help predict those nutrient deficiencies pre-season before they happen! Having better early-season data on soil function has an immediate ROI.
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