Soil testing is a vital service for crop growers. When your income depends on the season’s yield you want to make sure your soil has everything it needs for a large, healthy harvest. In professional lawn care, however, we tend to use it only when there is a problem with the lawn. Here’s what you need to know about soil testing before you go sending off your samples.
Can we identify the problem another way?
Lawn problems can often be diagnosed without having to do a full-blown soil test. If the lawn is struggling the first thing to do is take a step back and look at the garden as a whole. Are there too many overhanging trees? Is it too sheltered by high fences and/or buildings on all sides? Does it get a significant amount of foot-traffic? If any of these like this sounds familiar then you may already have your answer.
Are soil pH testing kits any good?
One of the most important results from a soil test is the pH, although rather hit-and-miss, you can test soil pH yourself quite quickly and cheaply. Home testing kits are available online and can be used to identify if there is a problem. If the reading is somewhere from pH 5.5 to 7.5 you are likely to be ok. If the reading is outside that range then you may need to think about soil amendment to get the best results from that lawn.
What soil testing options are available?
The lab that you send your samples off to will usually always have a variety of testing options to choose from. In essence, the more nutrients/properties that you want to test for, the more expensive the results will be. Tests can range from basic pH, P, K, Mg for to a more thorough analysis of 12 nutrients, pH, organic matter % and soil type. If the lawn that you are treating has an obvious problem then we would recommend going for a higher-level of analysis and identifying the problem in one hit.
Once you have your analysis back from the soil lab then you may need some help understanding it. A member of the GreenBest sales team can advise which of your existing fertilisers to use or suggest a new product to help alleviate the problem.
Why isn’t nitrogen tested for?
We don’t test for nitrogen (N) in soil tests for a number of reasons. Unlike other nutrients, nitrogen does not tend to hang around in the soil for very long, it gets used up by the lawn or leached out with the rain. Also, as the soil sample that you send off is still living, the soil bacteria will have altered the nitrogen level before an accurate reading can be taken.
How often should a soil test be done?
Once you have carried out your remedial actions on the lawn then another soil test should be done to check progress, when you should do this depends on the problem you are fixing. Of course, if the lawn growth is visibly improved after your actions and there appears to be no problem anymore then you may decide a second test is not necessary!
GreenBest can help with soil testing if needed. We use an independent laboratory and will help you understand the results and what to do with them. Speak to one of our sales team on the phone about your options 01963 364788.