Many home gardeners ask, why take soil samples? Soil sampling must be done prior to the planting of crops to determine the correct amount of nutrients and lime to add to the soil.
It is best to take soil samples late in the fall or early winter of each year because certain additives, such as lime, require several fallow months before fully activated in the soil. Thus the 2-3 months lead time will allow lime, if needed, to react with the soil in time for spring planting.
Soil testing also determines proper fertilization rates support good plant growth, based on what is being grown. A soil test does not specify when and how often fertilizer should be applied, just what quantity. Additionally, soil tests do not test for nitrogen.
Information about timing fertilization is available at your local Extension Office. It is best to consult with your local extension agent once you have received your soil results so that he or she can advise you on the proper steps to take as to when and how to apply these items to the soil.
Soil testing will save you money and is probably the most important step that is taken in preparing your soils for good plant support. If this step is left out of the soil preparation stage, then it will be impossible to determine the proper amounts of nutrients to add to the soil to support a healthy plant.
Remember now is the time to do your soil testing for the spring. Contact your Local Extension office for any questions on getting a soil test.