Soil Sampling and Analysis for Managing Crop Nutrients

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Soil testing plays an important role in crop production and nutrient management. On farms that use commercial fertilizer as the main nutrient source, it is the best way to plan for profitable fertilizer applications. On livestock farms, knowing how much nutrient is present in the soil to start with is critical. Only then can a nutrient management plan be developed to properly manage both the nutrients that have been generated on-farm and any nutrients that are being imported to the property as biosolids or commercial fertilizer.

Soil testing is really a three-step process: the collection of a representative sample from each field or section, proper analysis of that sample to determine the levels of available nutrients, and use of the results to determine optimum fertilizer rates. Keeping records is an integral part of the soil-testing process; they will help determine if soil test levels are increasing, decreasing or being maintained over time.

Keith Reid
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rurals Affairs