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Soil sampling time

August 12, 2013

Fall is quickly approaching and after all the rainy season, many growers say it can’t come soon enough. A very important job for all farmers is soil sampling. I know, many of you say we Extension folks are always preaching about soil sampling. Yes, we do talk about it a lot, but this year it is more important than in many years. Let’s look back at the past season. Some areas of Sampson County have had over 40 inches of rainfall during this growing season. We have lots of sandy soils in the county. An overabundance of rain on sandy soils leads to higher leaching of nutrients than normal. Nutrients like Nitrogen, Potassium, and Sulfur are especially prone to leaching with lots of rainfall on sandy soils. While the NCDA soil lab does not test for Nitrogen in the soil samples, they do test for many other elements. I am really encouraging all growers to sample all fields this year after the overabundance of rain.


Have you heard the news? The North Carolina Legislature passed a bill during the 2013 session that implements a $4.00 fee for soil samples submitted to the NCDA lab from December 1 through March, beginning this year. There will still be no fee for samples submitted from April through November.


I am encouraging all farmers to pull soil samples as soon as possible after harvesting crops. Most tobacco and cornfields will be harvested in ample time to pull samples. If we have a wet fall, there may be some late harvesting of soybeans, milo, cotton and peanuts.


Why do we recommend growers pull soil samples? One of the most important things I look at on soil sample reports is the pH of the soil. Many of our soils need lime to neutralize the acidity of the soil. With all the rain we have had this year, fields that were marginal on lime needs last year may need additional lime this year. In addition, many fields were fertilized with additional nitrogen and sulfur this year. Both of those nutrients cause the pH of the soil to become lower.


If you need information on how to pull soil samples or if you need sample boxes, contact us at the Cooperative Extension Office. Happy Soil Sampling.