The SeedPod —Ep 16: Soil testing is step one in soil health management

When it comes to testing seed, you’re after many answers, but the bottom line is always “Is this seed fit for use?” When it comes to soil, you don’t have the choice on whether or not to use it — but you can use soil sampling and testing to inform your management and put a plan in place to improve the soil you have.

On this edition of the SeedPod, host Shaun Haney is joined by Trevor Nystevold, director, seed and crop, for SGS Biovision, and Jack Legg, branch manager for SGS Biovision’s Guelph office, to talk about soil testing, as it relates to, yes, fertilizer applications, but also as a benchmark for soil management planning.

Soil testing is a critical first step in not just nutrient management planning, but in optimizing the seedbed in preparation for the upcoming year and for all the year’s ahead, says Nystevold. By measuring and comparing compaction, pH, and organic matter, farmers can better understand what may be limiting germination and yield, and develop a plan to improve those soil characteristics over time.

Testing soil to better understand soil health is much more complex than simply measuring nutrient levels, as testing for physical, biological, and chemical composition is less absolute. By far, says Legg, the most common purpose for soil health analysis right now is benchmarking. It is often a prerequisite to adding cover crops to a rotation, reducing tillage, or some other form of changed management.

“Over time, you can compare to that benchmark. We’re looking for a soil that can sustain itself, cycle nutrients better, infiltrate water, hold nutrients, and be better medium for growing crops,” says Legg.

Hear this Seedpod episode, recorded at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, below:

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