By: Aaron Habig
It is spring again and thoughts move to working in the yard. It is time to get out and start to plant the vegetable garden, tend to the flower beds, and work on the lawn. So how do you know what these areas need? If you have not had a soil fertility test, you may not know what the soil conditions are, and you could be spending money on things you may or may not need.
Most people listen to the ads put out by the fertilizer companies telling them what they need to use. These ads are designed to sell you products, not to do what is best for your yard and the environment. Excess nutrients are one of the major contributors to water quality in our streams, lakes, and rivers. These nutrients do not just come off farm fields, they can be washing off your yard.
By having your soil tested, you can get a precise recommendation on the nutrients you need to apply for the crop you are trying to grow. This will reduce the amount of excess nutrients available to wash into the environment and save you money on purchasing fertilizer. You can also find out if the pH of your soil is in a range that is best for the plants you are trying to grow.
If your pH is not in the correct range, you may have all the nutrients a plant needs, but they may not be available for the plant to use.
Hamilton County Soil & Water Conservation District can provide a kit to have your soils tested and provide results tailored to the type of plants you are trying to grow. We use Penn State University to provide this service. The cost of a soil test through Penn State is $9.00 for the basic test. This test will tell you the amount of Phosphorus, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium, as well as your pH. Penn State will also give recommendation for the appropriate amount of nitrogen as well as the above listed nutrients. If your pH is not within the recommended range, guidance is provided on how to lower or raise the pH to an optimal level.
A copy of the test results is also sent back to the District, so that we can have the results on hand to go over with you should you have any questions about the results, or fertilizer recommendations.
To request a soil test kit visit our website. You can also pick them up at our office during normal business hours.
Feel free to contact Aaron Habig with any soil fertility or soil health questions.