SoilOptix® Blog

What Are the Potential Risks of Using Fertilisers Without Opting For Agricultural Soil Testing?

In modern-day agriculture, soil testing is the most important practice for managing fertilizer application and crop production. With agricultural soil testing, it is easier to ensure the correct application of fertilizers for the crop and get the optimum yield. Currently, 37% of the land area worldwide is used for agriculture, and there is little room for expansion. Another huge problem is that we must take better care of our precious soil. Worldwide, more than 10 million hectares are prone to soil degradation yearly. Soil degradation can lead to irreversible impacts on soil fertility, resulting in an irreparable loss of fertile topsoil worth about 40 billion US dollars.

What is Soil Testing?

The process by which elements like phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulphur, copper, manganese, and zinc are chemically removed from the soil and are measured for their available content within the soil sample is called Soil Testing. This is an essential diagnostic tool for determining the nutrient for plants. 

Why is it important to soil test?

Soil analysis is valuable as it determines the inputs required for efficient and economical production. A soil test will help ensure the application of sufficient fertilizer to meet the requirements of the crop while utilizing the nutrients already present in the soil. It will also allow you to determine lime requirements and can be used to diagnose problem areas. Your sampling technique must be correct, as the outcomes are only as good as the sample you take. Soil testing is also a requirement for farms that must complete a nutrient management plan.

What are the potential risks if you do not conduct a soil test?

No optimal yield due to under- or over-fertilisation

It is compulsory to opt for agriculture soil testing before applying fertilizers to determine the soil’s status and nutrient need. Only then can you determine the exact type and quantity of fertilizer needed. If you apply fertilizer without knowing correctly what your soil layer needs, you risk using too much or too little fertilizer and not achieving optimal yield. Suppose you apply too much fertilizer or apply it at the wrong time. In that case, there arises a chance of “fertilizer burn” – scorching of plant foliage resulting from excess nitrogen salts. Injudicious application of fertilizers may also result in crop damage and yield loss.

Causing environmental damage due to over-fertilising

Soil testing provides a proper recommendation on the suitable variety and amount of fertilizer necessary. This minimizes the chances of applying excessive fertilizers and results in environmental damage. For example, excessively nitrogen-rich fertilizers might runoff from the field into water bodies, causing an excess amount of nutrients to deposit in water and rapid growth of plant life – a process known as eutrophication – with detrimental effects on water quality.

Wasting limited resources

Nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium present in inorganic fertilizers are limited resources. Phosphorus, for example, is mined from phosphate deposits that are unevenly distributed around the world. The term “peak phosphorus” describes the point when we reach the maximum global production rate of phosphorus. According to researchers, peak phosphorus will be achieved in approximately 2030, whereas phosphorus reserves are expected to be depleted within the next 100 years. Therefore, we need to be more efficient in using phosphorous-based fertilizers to prevent a future shortage.

Testing your soil and getting to know its nutrient needs before applying any fertilization is the best way to avoid over-fertilizing and wasting money on unnecessary soil enrichers. To explore more about the benefits of soil testing, visit