Fall is the ideal time of year to conduct routine soil sampling of your cropland. Not only are there typically more favorable weather conditions for soil sampling as compared to the spring season, but it will also give you the winter months to think about upcoming management decisions based on the soil analysis.
The University of Wisconsin Nutrient and Pest Management Program has a short how-to video on soil sampling basics. The video provides viewers a quick guide on how to prepare for soil sampling, how to soil sample, and how to fill out the soil sample submission sheet to take to the soil testing laboratory. The video ‘Basic Soil Sampling for Wisconsin Agriculture’ can be viewed from the Integrated Pest and Crop Management YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwBZp_AXy0Y, or click below.
When sampling soils for testing and obtaining fertilizer and lime recommendations, it is important to obtain samples that accurately represent the field from which they were taken. Accurate soil sampling will ensure that the estimated amount of nutrients that should be applied to the field provide the greatest economic return to the farmer. They will also provide information on the variation that exists in the field and show how nutrients are distributed across the farm, as well as provide a basis for monitoring the change in farm fertility over time.
Also available from the University of Wisconsin Extension is publication A2100, ‘Sampling Soils for Testing’. This publication addresses various soil sampling strategies, sampling procedures, as well as other considerations when practicing no-till or various tillage systems. The publication A2100 can be downloaded for free at http://learningstore.uwex.edu. The publication is available in the ‘Farming’ category, under ‘Soils’, and ‘Soil Fertility’. Contact your County Agriculture Extension Agent with questions.