Soil testing is crucial for any crops to survive and flourish. A proper diet of nutrients, organic carbons, nitrogen, micronutrients should be available for plants all the season. Even the pH of the soil matters.
In order to get clarity on what our soil is providing for plants or whats their deficiency, a soil test is mandatory. We can’t blindly provide all the nutrients –
- They may be in excess.
- Maybe the soil needs just extra calcium but you might have added all the nutrients.
- The present crop does require a lot of potassium or it may need to have slightly acidic soil.
A farmer will come to know, only if he carries out soil tests.
Why Soil Test?
A soil investigation can help gardeners and farmers answer those questions on the soil constitution.
Some of the soil features that can be determined by soil test are:
1. Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement on a scale to determine whether the soil is towards acid (low pH) or towards alkaline (high pH). The more the acidic the plants grow poorly. The soil tests allow us to make a decision on pH problems.
Nutrients are essential for the crops to grow well. The nutrients like calcium (Ca), potassium (K), phosphorus(P) and magnesium (Mg) are all part of the fertilizers we use. The right combination can be determined for the soil, only if soil test is conducted.
Nitrogen (N) is needed in massive amounts by many plants, and including N is a fundamental part of the majority of fertilizer applications.
Soil salinity is more in the coastal region, this will have an adverse effect on a few crops.
Aluminum and Micronutrients all also essential for the crops.
These are the common features that are tested during the soil tests. There can be specialized soil testing if the crops still lack their proper growth.
Types of equipment needed for soil test
To find the soil sample dig around the random places in the land to be evaluated. The equipment required for soil test are:
- Land map required for the area to be selected for sample collection of soil
- Shovel -always use the tools made of steel. Other metals can contain copper or zinc, which will give a wrong percentage in the sample collected.
- bag or plastic bucket – For mixing and collecting of subsamples.
- Transparent plastic bag to collect the final sample of the soil.
- Lable and marker – for identification of the sample.
How to get Soil for a Soil Test?
Selecting the soil for soil testing
- Identify 5 to 6 places in the land by marking in a ‘Z’ shape.
- Clean the surface area and dig the soil in a V-shaped pattern to collect about half a kg soil.
- Similarly, collect the soil from six different spots of the same area and mix well. Spread it on the ground under shade in a circular shape.
- Divide the circle into four quadrants and discard the soil from two opposite quadrants.
- Again mix the remaining soil and repeat the same process until you obtain one kg of soil.
- Dry this soil in shade and collect it in a plastic bag.
- Neatly label the soil sample consisting of the name of land, place, any survey number, a crop is grown previously and the date of soil sample collection.
- This soil is finally sent to the laboratory for soil testing.
Steps to be taken for soil testing
The soil must not be taken from the following areas:
- The fertile part of the land.
- From water-logged areas.
- Near the bunds.
- Where the fertilizers have been stored.
- From the tilled area.