Soil Sampling, Lime Application and Tillage
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Thread: Soil Sampling, Lime Application and Tillage

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    Soil Sampling, Lime Application and Tillage

    I suppose this started more as curiosity than a real "need". On our farm, with the newer "Variable Rate Technology", the soil is sampled in 2.5 acre grids every 2 years. We've found that we are able to significantly increase production by knowing exactly what the soil needs.

    Anyway, I've always been curious about the fertility of our yard and garden. So, we decided to take soil samples and get them tested by the local soil and water conservation office.

    We took several cores from our yard, and combined them into one sample.

    Then, we took several more cores in our garden for the second sample.

    Here are the results
    First the yard...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Then the garden...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    A couple of things are interesting about these results:

    1. Large difference in pH between the two samples. The garden has only been in production for 2 years. Why would there be such a difference?

    2. There is always lots of discussion about how lawn phosphorous levels are often too high. This yard has been here for 30 years. I'm surprised that it is a bit low in phosphorous.

    As usual, we made a family affair of this project.

    Here are some videos of the entire project.

    First, gathering the samples:



    Next, apply the lime. Had to use some creativity to get this done.



    Finally, remove the depth stops on the King Kutter tiller and till it as deep as possible.



    So, get some popcorn and enjoy...

    Tim
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    Quote Originally Posted by timmarks View Post
    1. Large difference in pH between the two samples. The garden has only been in production for 2 years. Why would there be such a difference?
    It may be as simple as plain old water. People tend to water their gardens more than they water their lawns. That leaches pH out of the soil. Same thing with snow melt in spring. Grass areas tend to hold moisture at the surface longer. Exposed soil in the garden areas tend to dry out quickly. That also allows organic matter to blow away in high winds. Also, if you use fertilizer that is high in nitrogen or sulfur, that can knock down pH pretty quick.

    Just as an interesting experiment, I'd be interested in what the pH levels are 2' down. I'd bet they are pretty consistant between your garden and the lawn areas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    It may be as simple as plain old water. People tend to water their gardens more than they water their lawns. That leaches pH out of the soil. Same thing with snow melt in spring. Grass areas tend to hold moisture at the surface longer. Exposed soil in the garden areas tend to dry out quickly. That also allows organic matter to blow away in high winds. Also, if you use fertilizer that is high in nitrogen or sulfur, that can knock down pH pretty quick.

    Just as an interesting experiment, I'd be interested in what the pH levels are 2' down. I'd bet they are pretty consistent between your garden and the lawn areas.
    Jim,

    Your explanations make good sense.

    I would love to do more experiments with the testing as well. In addition to doing deeper tests, I would like to do more tests in different areas of the yard. For instance, we moved our driveway last year. The soil there is dramatically different...no black topsoil!

    Unfortunately the soil and water conservation office here charges $30 per test. So, that dampens my curiosity somewhat! If I could find tests for $10 or so, I would do several tests attempting to satisfy some of this curiosity.

    Has anyone else done soil tests on their yard and garden? Is there a cheaper place? Any other insight?

    Thanks,

    Tim
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    Soil tests

    Quote Originally Posted by timmarks View Post
    Jim,

    Your explanations make good sense.

    I would love to do more experiments with the testing as well. In addition to doing deeper tests, I would like to do more tests in different areas of the yard. For instance, we moved our driveway last year. The soil there is dramatically different...no black topsoil!

    Unfortunately the soil and water conservation office here charges $30 per test. So, that dampens my curiosity somewhat! If I could find tests for $10 or so, I would do several tests attempting to satisfy some of this curiosity.

    Has anyone else done soil tests on their yard and garden? Is there a cheaper place? Any other insight?

    Thanks,

    Tim
    You might try your local Extension office. Virginia Tech has a soils lab and I think lawn and garden tests run about $10 for the basic info. If your land grant university has a similar set up, Extension may be able to help you out. I didn't look to see your location so I'm not sure what land grant colleges/universities are in your state.

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