Soil testing is an important aspect of soil managing, especially for the small-scale farmers. Be it to test the quality of the soil to house the crops or for the benefit of the farm animals. The nutrient and mineral content of the soil should be checked regularly for the benefit of the farmers. It would provide them with an idea which would facilitate them with the understanding of the soil as well as all the additional requirements it might have, in order to produce the maximum output. The first and foremost benefit of a soil test is the ability to understand what is in your soil, if you are serious about farming then you must know What is Soil pH? what is the level of micro-nutrients?
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The procedure of soil testing involves the process of soil sampling. Testing of the sampled soil facilitates the creation of an inventory of the nutrient quotient of the tested soil and other factors which are instrumental in the production of certain crops. The general nutrient status of a particular region of soil can be obtained once the soil gets regularly tested. It is recommended to conduct Nitrogen soil testing annually, as the nitrogen quotient is known to be continuously shifting. These changes are usually dependent on certain natural factors, or shift in the environment, like temperature range or amount of rainfall. It also depends on the type of crop, the time of harvest and the quantity of fertilizer employed during the cropping season. Soil samples should also be taken annually to test for the Sulphur content.
Soil sampling and testing provides an excellent inventory of plant available, but only if it is done properly. The level of phosphorous and potassium content in the soil is not known to very much. They tend to remain constant throughout a considerable period of time. Therefore the sampling of soil for phosphorus or potassium could be restricted to once every three or four years. It would be advisable to definitely test the soil before starting the planting of the next type of crop during crop rotation.
Soil testing mainly includes geometrical arrangement or pattern of soil components, mineral composition (organic matter & PH level), the presence of beneficial organisms like earthworms, nematodes, protozoa, fungi, and bacteria. It also includes the extent of soil pollution. Basically, there are four methods which are used to gather the soil samples. They have been listed as follows:
This procedure basically refers to the collection of soil samples across a field in a random manner. the selection of the patch of soil is done in a manner so as to enable the avoidance of usual regions and predictability. This is the most popular method of soil testing. Usually around fifteen to twenty sites have to be sampled in order to be able to provide a comprehensive representation of the soil sample of a field which must not be more than 80 acres. Simple random sampling is a more precise method of taking soil samples and is less biased by the sampler than other samplings.
In this procedure the samples are extracted in a much more systematized manner. The field is divided into grids and accordingly the soil gets sampled. It is understood that the smaller the soil sampling region happens to be, the accuracy of the sample becomes greater. With the use of this process one would be able to prepare a field map for each nutrient.
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Samples are extracted from certain regions based on type and crop growth and topography. This process is used as a guide for fertilizing areas.
As the name of this process is suggestive, the topography of the field determines the sites for the sampling of the soil. Samples are extracted from various topographic regions with a field.