Basic Soil Test
If you are preparing to plant a new field of grass or re-planting into an existing stand, a basic soil test is incredibly valuable and could save you a lot of time, effort, and money. All because planting into an environment with the wrong conditions (too high or low of pH, not enough soil fertility, toxic levels of certain elements, etc.) could at best lead to disappointing forage performance and availability, or at worse result in failure of the desired forage to get established. A forage test well ahead of the anticipated planting date can help set a planned planting project up for success.
Snapshot Soil Health & Biology Test
Healthy soil is living soil. There are more living creatures in a large handful of healthy soil than the number of all the humans who have ever lived! With an increasing number of soil tests offered that help you understand not only the physical and chemical nature of your soil (provided by a basic soil test) but also the biological conditions and health of your soil.
Make sure your soil test at least provides SOM (soil organic matter), which provides a broad understanding of your soil biology, and is a good indicator of your soil’s overall health. Increasingly there are additional tests, with increasing cost, that provides a more in-depth understanding of your soil’s biological health. The Haney Test is becoming a popular test and is recommended to those who want to learn more about their soil beyond physical and chemical properties. Also, there is an increasing number of specialized “Soil Food Web” labs that will identify actual microbial species and populations and, most importantly, the ratio across the various types of healthy microbes. For example, the ratio between fungi: bacteria are a key indicator of overall soil health since healthy soil needs a diversity of microbial life, which dramatically influences the availability of specific nutrients.