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Soil Testing Guide for Vegetable Farmers

August 1, 2012

WSU Extension Publications has just released “Soil Testing: A Guide for Farms with Diverse Vegetable Crops.” The new fact sheet presents a comprehensive, yet affordable, procedure for implementing an annual soil-testing program for farms with diverse vegetable crops. The reader will learn when to sample, where to sample, how to take a sample, and how to use sample results to improve farm management.

Figure3-Probe“Healthy soils are living, dynamic systems that provide many functions essential to human health and habitation,” writes WSU Extension educator and soil scientist Doug Collins in the new publication. “Soil sampling and analysis can be used not only to sustain plant and animal productivity but also to maintain or enhance air and water quality. Using data from soil sampling and analyses to tailor farm management decisions can also improve both farm profitability and environmental stewardship.”

Soil testing results can indicate nutrient deficiencies or excesses, nutrient-holding capacity, organic matter content, and soil alkalinity or acidity. Soil analysis can guide farmers and gardeners in making soil amendment and soil management decisions. Making soil sampling an annual event enables farmers to track management practices and make informed decisions about future soil amendment practices “Soil Testing” clearly and simply guides readers through the entire process of testing. The manual describes developing a soil-sampling plan, when and how to take soil samples, and how to track and use the data collected.

Collins is leading a team developing soil-fertility tests [see the Green Times article] for use by organic farmers. He emphasized the importance of assessing particular sites for soil-fertility. “What we’ve found is that you really have to know what is going on with a particular piece of ground. You can’t offer generalized advice about fertility management. That’s why we’re developing these tests,” Collins said.

“Soil Testing” is available as a free PDF download from WSU Extension Publications.


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