Your Soil is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link

Nov 22, 2019

Your Soil is Only as Strong as its Weakest Link
Ethan Noll, Digital Ag & Services Specialist

As we all know, weather is the biggest variable that we face in farming. However, soil gives us a foundation that can help us weather the droughts, or to take us from a good year to a phenomenal year. Many of you follow your favorite football team, and as most people know, a football team is only as good as its weakest link. A running back can’t gain yards if the linemen aren’t blocking. If just one defensive back blows his coverage, it makes the whole defense vulnerable to passes down the field. Just as in football, your soil is only as good as its weakest link. Every nutrient affects how another nutrient is taken up and utilized. An example of this is how sulfur and nitrogen work together to build proteins in the plant. If you don’t have adequate sulfur, your plant isn’t using nitrogen as effectively as it could be. If you don’t have adequate potassium, your plants can suffer more under drought stress conditions. This is where soil sampling comes in. If you have a soil sample, Ag Partners can work with you to design a fertility program around your field’s specific needs.

We have multiple ways to soil sample to meet different needs. My preference is grid sampling. All too often a field through its lifetime will have areas of grass taken out, erosion, terrace work, manure spread, and different crops growing. This creates variables in the field that soil maps and yield maps don’t always consider. Grid sampling puts points on a field about every 2.5 acres. This takes out any bias from the farmer or agronomist and is great for eliminating variability in a field’s fertility program. With our ability to apply fertilizer at variable rates and the use of our precision programs, we have been able to see a leveling out of nutrients over a field. We’ve seen low P and K areas come up, and high areas go down to a more reasonable level. In the long run,this saves you money and puts the nutrients where they need to be. When growers take grid samples of their soil, then come back and re-grid 3 to 4 years later, Ag Partners has seen an average of a 22.5 percent reduction in potassium fertilizer and a 25 percent reduction in phosphorus fertilizer necessary to maintain a soils fertility. We’ve also seen outstanding results in pH when lime is applied on a field at a variable rate.

If grid sampling isn’t what you’re looking for, we do have the ability to zone sample or composite sample. Zone sampling is done by building zones based on soil and yield maps. Typically, crops will yield about the same on a given soil type and remove about the same amount of nutrients. My only problem with this is it doesn’t account as much for the variability that I’ve seen take place in the field.

If you are looking to take your crop to the next level, and eliminate any weaknesses your soil might have, please give us a call. Don’t let your soil be the reason you aren’t winning in the field.

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