|QUESTIONS and ANSWERS|
Questions and Answers about specific aspects of our program. Questions:
What would you recommend for making the highest yield of corn? Is it true that too much lime can be used on the soil? Are you interested in helping just a small organic gardener? A consultant I know says the Albrecht system of soil testing caused a problem for one of his clients. How could this happen? What is the best course of action to take in order to correct high sodium levels in our soils? Is it possible to cause problems while trying to increase soil fertility levels for improved crop resistance to drought? When is the best time to take soil samples? Is it possible to increase drought resistance for crops grown on my land, by increasing soil fertility? What do you mean when using the phrase "the Albrecht Model of soil fertility"? Is your soil fertility program designed to work for all types of growers and their various approaches to soil fertility? Why go to so much trouble to take soil samples, when taking a leaf analysis while the plant is growing can be used to show what is needed? Who would benefit most by attending the various soil fertility workshops that you put on in the course of a year? How can a program of soil fertility from the Midwestern United States provide the quality and production we need here, a different region altogether with completely different soils and crops? How long will it take to receive soil fertility recommendations back from your company?
Question: When is the best time to take soil samples? Answer: This question is probably asked more often than any other one that we have to answer. And many are surprised at the answer they receive, because it is not always correct to give the same one.
The correct answer depends on management goals / decisions which have to be set by each grower. How long has it been since the soil was sampled previously? Is it preferred to see the soil fertility levels at their best or their worst? How much and how long ago was any nitrogen or sulfur applied? How dry is the soil that is to be sampled? Will lime or certain micronutrients like copper, manganese or iron, likely be needed for the next crop? When will the crop be planted? Will it be convenient to re-sample at this same time of year in the future? All of these questions have to be considered before we can properly answer when is the best time to take soil samples.
First, all growers should consider this: if it has been over two years since you last sampled, the best time to take new soil samples is as soon as it can correctly be accomplished. Sample Annually Ultimately, each grower should plan to take samples at the same time of year each time for comparison purposes on each field. So once you are past any initial needs from a lack of sampling in the past, choose a time that is convenient. But before deciding on the best course, consider a few other requirements.
We have clients who prefer to measure the nutrient levels of their soils when they are at their very worst. This is generally just after a crop is harvested, or when the greatest amount of un-decomposed residues are still present. Others want to measure their soil at its best, which is the time when optimum temperature and moisture are present, the maximum amount of residue decomposition has occured, and when any plants growing there have not matured to the point that large amounts of nutrients are being removed. When drought conditions persist to the point that grass will no longer grow, the soil is too dry to sample. It will cause the pH to drop and calcium and magnesium levels will appear lower than is actually the case. Also, where significant amounts of nitrogen have been spread in the last thirty days, or sulfur in the last 60 - 180 days, samples should not be taken for the same reasons. The same is true when fertilizer is being added in small areas, such as with drip systems or hand applications around plants; anything that tends to make the soil more acidic in the short term (temporarily drops the pH) should be suspect in such cases. Plan To Take Soil Samples In Good Time. Planning ahead to be sure the samples are taken in a timely manner for the crop, sometimes even before the present one is harvested, can make a big difference. This is especially true when lime or fertilizer could be needed for the benefit of the next crop to be grown, and there may not be sufficient time to get everything done after harvest. Be Sure To Sample Correctly. If you take soil samples, but do it only once in a while, it is always advisable to review the sampling instructions each time. Remember, "the recommendation is only as good as the sample taken". When samples are properly taken, and the information requested on our soil-test worksheet is correctly supplied, the Albrecht Model of soil analysis will show which materials work best.
Question: Is it possible to increase drought resistance for crops grown on my land, by increasing soil fertility? Answer: Yes it is. There are several possibilities that could help contribute to drought resistance for whatever crop you may decide to grow on your land.
For example, increasing the soil's ability to capture and retain water by correctly incorp- orating crop residues, compost, etc. will help to increase the soil organic matter and soil moisture content as it also helps to maintain or increase nutrient levels.
It is also recognized and emphasized in course materials on soil fertility, that adequate amounts of potassium and phosphate increase water use efficiency for plant growth. And although there are still soils that lack a sufficient amount of one or both of these major elements, most highly productive soils have sufficient levels to accomplish water use efficiency. If not, applying them in correct amounts would be the most efficient way to increase water use for crops grown on that land.
Sulfur can contribute to root growth of plants, in addition to its other effects. Increases of as much as 50%, in terms of extra root growth, can be measured when adequate sulfur is applied. To the extent that the root system is expanded, the efficiency of the crop to find and utilize soil moisture will be increased. Most soils are low to deficient in sulfur, and thus lacking when it comes to enough for optimum root growth. And for maximum efficiency, sulfur only works best when calcium is present in adequate amounts.
Once the phosphate, potassium and sulfur are supplied, then consider the calcium levels of the soil to help aid in drought resistance. Calcium must be present in the soil for root elongation. Without sufficient calcium roots will stop growing. So the grower must assure that adequate calcium is supplied to the soil for optimum root development. This would generally be accomplished by applying a sufficient amount of the proper type of lime.
After calcium is considerd, care should be taken - especially in lighter, sandier soils - to assure that sufficient magnesium is present. Studies have shown that magnesium in the soil actually helps to attract and hold water there So soils that are low in magnesium will dry out more quickly. Again, determining the soil's cation exchange capacity by properly testing the soil to measure both the actual and the needed saturation of magnesium will most accurately identify and determine how to correct this situation.
Once the major and secondary elements are supplied, there is yet another nutrient that is absolutely necessary in specific amounts for optimum moisture utilization. Without it, plants will not use water, whatever the source, most efficiently. That nutrient is the trace element zinc. Too often the effects of zinc, if admitted to be needed at all, are discounted in importance for improving drought resistance because the farmer or grower is told the soil already has enough, when it is not actually the case. First keep in mind that if the soil is lacking in sufficient phosphate, potassium, sulfur, calcium, or magnesium, zinc will still not do the best possible job. Even after all the afore-mentioned nutrients are supplied, zinc is often overlooked or not correctly recognized as needed, because the level necessary for proper utilization is set too low on the soil test being used.
When adequate nutrients are not present, plants lack the ability to fully develop the optimum root system and soils are not able to take in as much water as they should. This restricts the plant's ability to take up optimum amounts of water. Deficiences in any of these aspects, left unresolved, results in less water-use efficiency.
Question: What do you mean when using the phrase "the Albrecht Model of soil fertility"? Answer: This phrase refers to the principles used to develop the system of testing which Dr.Albrecht worked to perfect in his decades of tireless work with the soil. It has to do with how he regarded soil fertility and approached that work with measurable, scientific principles, which could be applied and proven right out in the field. It is, as outlined by the principles given below, the foundational approach for achieving excellent soil fertility.
The ideal soil is composed of 45% minerals, 5% humus, and 50% pore space. Preferably, 50% water and 50% air occupy that pore space. In addition, that same pore space, which contains the air and water, also serves as the proper environment for all types of living organisms necessary to help provide the needs of growing plants in that soil. So, essentially, the Albrecht soil fertility model utilizes soil chemistry to affect soil physics, which determines the environment for the biology of the soil. The soil audit, using a specifically developed set of soil testing procedures adapted by Dr.William A. Albrecht to determine and correct the soil's mineral content, provides the means to measure and supply the needed chemistry for each particular soil. It is the chemical make-up of each soil that determines its physical structure. When a soil has the correct chemistry, the physics of that soil is also correct. When the chemistry and physics are right, so long as the principles to avoid soil compaction are observed, the environment for the biology will also be right. The more the chemistry, physics and biology are correctly influenced, the better whatever crops that would normally be expected to grow there will produce from that soil. That is why so much emphasis is placed on achieving the exact level for each nutrient, based on the specific requirements of every different soil..
Just measuring the pH of the soil does not assure arriving at the correct lime and fertilizer needs. An excessive or high pH reading on any soil is chiefly influenced by four specific elements [calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K) and sodium Na)]. That pH level can ultimately be positively influenced by correcting what is shown to be needed for soils that have been properly sampled and analyzed. Once the Ca, Mg, K and Na are corrected the pH will also be correct. But the pH can be "correct" with undue influence from an excess of magnesium, sodium or even potassium - if large amounts of compost or manure have been applied - and the potential productivity of that soil can still be severely limited. So it is not the pH that truly determines a soil's productivity, it is achieving the correct levels of those elements that have a major effect on pH. When the nutrients that affect a pH reading are present in correct amounts, the pH will be correct as well. Soil pH is ultimately a result, not a cause, in terms of proper soil fertility.
How soil needs are determined. Soil nutrients are supplied based on any deficiences or excesses. When there is too much of one element in the soil, it will inhibit the availa- bility of one or more other needed elements. When there is too little of a needed element in the soil, supplying that element will help to reduce any that are there in excess. Supplying what is missing in terms of measurable nutrients is the first key to controlling any excesses in that particular soil. Soil feeders versus plant feeders. This is why the Albrecht program emphasizes "feed the soil and let the soil feed the plants." When the soil contains the correct chemistry, the plant, whatever it may be, will be able to acquire all the necessary nutrients in the proper amounts. Using the correct type of fertilizer is most important, and is able to be accurately ascertained by the testing procedures used. The approach is to use fertilizers that build the levels in the soil. Too many fertilizers are 'plant feeders'. They only remain in a form useable by plants for a short period of time. It is far better to use fertilizers that feed and replenish the reservoirs in that soil. Such materials are used in order to build nutrient levels, thus keeping them in an available form so that what is not used up by the current crop, can be used by the next crop.
You cannot mange what you cannot measure. Using the Albrecht system, even the trace element levels in the soil take on measured significance. But they can only work properly when adequately supplied, and when the needed levels of primary and secondary elements are present as well. The Albrecht system of soil testing has been developed to accomplish this, even to the point of measuring the increase of micronutrient levels on a pound for pound basis. This is what is meant by our use of the phrase; "the Albrecht Model for soil fertility". These principles are presently being used successfully in our program for all types of food and fiber crops throughout the world. And we strive to encourage each new prospective client to sufficiently prove it out on a small scale and then proceed based on the results obtained.
Question: Is your soil fertility program designed to work for all types of growers and their various approaches to soil fertility? Answer: We work with all types of growers, including those who use conventional, organic, natural and bio-dynamic methods. And we work with virtually all types of crops from all over the world. And yet with that said, our program is still not for everyone!
Feed the soil and let the soil feed the crop. The program we use is based on the foundational work of Dr.William A. Albrecht. “Feed the soil and let the soil feed the crop”. The soil is the plant’s stomach. It actually does the digesting of the nutrients for the plants growing there, just as our stomach is used to digest what we eat. This is done by the activity of living organisms in both cases. Those who study life in the soil tell us that collecting just the organisms living in one acre would weigh as much as an average size cow. Those organisms in the soil get the nutrients they need before the crop we are trying to grow. Thus the saying, “The living organisms in the soil always eat first, and the crop gets what is left.” If we fail to supply enough of any given element to the soil, what we are trying to grow there will suffer the loss. Our soil fertility program is based on this approach, and we can best help clients who have decided this is the approach they want to follow. Let’s expand on this to better hone in on the differences. Some growers think they are using a “feed the soil” program, but actually approach it with “feeding the plant” methods that cause the soil fertility program to come up short. Broadcasting needed fertilizers and soil amendments feeds the soil, including all the organisms involved in the digestion and feeding of the crop. The concept of side-dressing fertilizers has been developed essentially to feed the plant and to forget providing feed for the rest of the soil life so necessary for health and vitality to the soil and the plants growing there. This is not to say that side-dressing fertilizer is always the wrong thing to do, but when it is at the expense of sacrificing the nutritional needs of the rest of the needed life in the soil, it is.
The types of fertilizers and amounts used in such programs should also be considered. When the fertilizers applied remain available in the soil until used up, they are considered as “soil feeders.” Fertilizers that must be used by the growing crop or else they will become “locked up” in forms not able to be utilized by the plants are termed “plant feeders.” The differences can actually be measured, and are accurately determined by the soil testing methods we employ. We try to help growers avoid those “plant feeder” types of materials when at all possible. The Albrecht Model of soil analysis can easily show which fertilizers fit into each category. It is the analysis that we use to determine soil fertility needs of all crops to be grown. Nutrient Balance. The Albrecht Model of soil analysis stresses that there are specific levels of each nutrient that must be determined, achieved and maintained in order to attain maximum output from any soil. These levels are not properly considered when using a fertilizer program just to produce the highest yields; such methods emphasize trying to feed the plant what it needs as fertilizer to achieve the desired yields. They have been developed just to feed the crop - the fertilizers used are not especially considered for their ability to build levels in the soil, but to get the fertilizer into the plant as quickly as possible. A“Crop feeder” type of program does not properly take into account that the soil is the plant’s stomach. That approach has essentially developed from the notion that the soil is only there to hold up the plant! Although some consultants, crop advisors and fertilizer companies claim this is the most economical way to grow crops, our clients have proven for themselves that in the long run this is not at all the case. We do not advocate the “crop feeder” type of approach to soil fertility. But there are those consultants who strongly feel it is the only way, and if your soil fertility program is one that follows such an approach, it would be better to find someone who at least understands how to use such a program for the greatest advantage. But if you feel that feeding the soil is a program that makes sense and you need help to implement it then we hope you will contact us.
Question: Why go to so much trouble to take soil samples, when taking a leaf analysis while the plant is growing can be used to show what is needed? Answer: A leaf analysis and a soil sample address two different, though complimentary, aspects of nutrient balancing.
A plant or leaf analysis that provides the grower with understandable and usable infor- mation can be an excellent tool. But just as with soil testing, most of these differ in terms of how analyzed results are determined and reported. They only become useful tools to those who can accurately correlate field conditions with what the numbers indicate as needed for the plants being grown. Consider a plant analysis for understanding existing nutrient uptake and how to correct this in the plants themselves, but do not use a plant or leaf analysis when trying to determine what should be done to the soil in which those plants are growing. For that type of determin- ation, there are several good reasons to use a reliable soil test.
A plant or leaf test shows what needs to be supplied to the plant right now. Always use a leaf or plant analysis to determine what to supply as a foliar application, and use a soil test to determine what materials should be applied to the soil. There are times when needed corrections cannot be made quickly enough to the soil; the nutrients required for immediate growth of the plants are not sufficently provided for in that way. A leaf or plant analysis should then be used to show what is lacking in the plant, and to show anything that is excessive as well. The test we use measures both. Some clients also use a leaf analysis where they are growing their very best crop or crops, just to determine if there may be some nutrient that could be applied, or reduced, to "fine tune" their soil fertility program.
Although foliar materials can be utilized rather quickly, one application may not be enough to completely solve the problem. However, the recommended amounts are all that is advisable to use at any one time, to avoid possible phyto-toxic reactions and / or blaming a foliar material if something else should happen and the plant or crop dies. Furthermore, an assumption that one application of any lacking nutrient will be sufficient to make a useful difference in the plants tested is often an incorrect assumption. The plant may be able to utilize only so much in a very short period of time, so to do the job completely a follow-up leaf analysis should be considered after each treatment until all deficiences are shown to be resolved. For example, on crops such as almonds, apples, cotton, grapes, etc., a leaf test is recommended at the first of each month, in May, June, July, and August, unless tests confirm that the deficient materials have been properly supplied.
However, using a leaf analysis to decide how to fertilize the soil can be a serious mistake. For example, when a soil has too little magnesium, the plants growing there will also have too little magnesium as shown by a plant or leaf analysis. But in many crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, pasture grasses, grapes and strawberries - to name just a few - we often see a lack of magnesium in the plants, when the soil tests show the levels are too high! An excess of magnesium in the soil does not assure plants growing there will receive enough. It would be correct to supply additional magnesium as a foliar treatment, perhaps even several times, but incorrect to assume from a leaf analysis showing magnesium deficiency that the soil needs more magnesium applied to it in order to eliminate a deficiency in future years. If the magnesium level in the soil tests low, it would be correct to add the proper amount of magnesium, but if the soil level is already too high - blocking uptake by the plant - then adding more magnesium to that soil can be an expensive mistake that will only make matters worse. Only a soil analysis that correctly measures the saturation of magnesium in each area will give the true answer as to whether that soil needs more magnesium. This is only one example of why a leaf analysis does not replace a soil analysis, or vice versa. Further examples are given in the chapter on plant analysis in the newly revised and expanded version of Hands-On Agronomy. Both types of analysis have their place, but each one serves a different purpose.
Question: Who would benefit most by attending the various soil fertility workshops you put on in the course of a year? Answer: First, we should describe the types of workshop that we conduct, and then consider which will best suit your need.
INTRODUCTORY SOIL FERTILITY WORKSHOP The Introductory workshop is about the 'why' of soil fertility management. In it we go over the importance of taking soil tests and using them to manage the fertility of your crops. The philosophy of the Albrecht model of soil analysis is explained in great detail. We take each nutrient that the Albrecht test analyzes and explain its importance to soil structure and microbiology, its importance to the plant, and its relationship to other nutrients. The pros and cons of various fertilizers and amendments and their effects on the soil are discussed as well. The workshop is generally 3 to 5 days in length. It is given in a classroom format where questions are encouraged, and is held in various locations around the US and in other countries. Most of the time it is put on at the request of farmers, growers or organizations that support them. This is what dictates the location and time of the workshop. ADVANCED SOIL FERTILITY WORKSHOP The Advanced workshop is about the 'how' of soil fertility management. In it we go over how we determine and make the recommendations from the soil analysis. This is basically a“number crunching” class. We discuss examples of soils that are relatively easy to correct as well as problem soils that will take more time and materials to change. We use examples from actual soil analysis reports to show how to calculate how much of which fertilizer or amendment to apply to correct a soil’s nutrient balance. We also show how to determine the value of a given limestone based on actual lime analysis reports. The workshop is 3 days in length. It also is in a classroom format. The location and times of these workshops are based on demand. ADVANCED II SOIL FERTILITY WORSHOP This workshop deals with special cases and more complicated problems. Only those who have completed the first advanced course are encouraged to attend, as this is not a repeat of the previous material. After a brief review of each principle involved for working out that sample, it builds on the previous course information. If you have attended an advanced workshop but have not received an invitation to an Advanced II Winter Workshop then perhaps we do not have a valid address or your name is not on our contact list - please contact us if you have been to an Advanced Workshop and desire information about our Advanced II Workshop.
Now that we have described the workshops we offer, we can answer the question of who would benefit the most by attending, as well as which workshop. If you want to learn more about the Albrecht model of soil analysis and its philosophy then the Introductory Workshop is where to start. Anyone who makes a living from the soil and wants to understand more about the value of managing their soil fertility by using a detailed soil analysis would do well to attend the Introductory Workshop. There are no pre-requisites for attending an Introductory Workshop. Those that would benefit most from attending the Advanced Workshop are generally consultants or individuals who would like to take their knowledge a step higher and be able to understand how to actually calculate how much of which fertilizer or amendment they need to apply to help correct their soil nutrient balance. If you are contemplating attending an Advanced Workshop one thing needs to be kept in mind. Since the Albrecht model is different from other soil analysis models, many questions come to mind for those not acquainted with it. Those questions are best answered at the Introductory Workshop or by reading “Hands-On Agronomy” before the Advanced Workshop. Also, the time it takes to answer philosophical type questions at an Advanced Workshop can prevent us from completing the planned material and are therefore discouraged. If you have not attended an Introductory Workshop or read “Hands-On Agronomy” enough to understand the Albrecht model you probably will not benefit as much from the Advanced Workshop.
Actual soil samples are used illustrating the points being made, with as many as possible being selected from the areas represented by those attending the course. And each new course will generally contain a new set of samples, not the same samples used in a previous course.
Question: How can a program of soil fertility from the Midwestern United States provide the quality and production we need here, a different region with completely different soils and crops? Answer: One of the greatest rewards that comes from the use of this soil fertility program is to see and hear clients who report back to us and those who attend the various training courses we conduct telling how they have verified over and over, on the soils they care for, that these principles work time after time, in such positive ways on soils from all over the world. Results can be measured and verified right out in the fields, vineyards and groves.
There are common denominators. Currently, we have worked with growers in more than 65 countries, and with most major food, fiber and feed crops of the world. When we first begin working in an area, sometimes the objection surfaces that “it may work elsewhere, but not here, because these soils are not like the soils in any other area”. When it comes to the soil, many growers correctly believe their soil is different. Because soils from the same area can vary significantly, often even in the same field. But there are some common denominators that help put them all on more equal footing.
Correct Soil Sampling. A major requirement when using the Albrecht Model of Soil Testing, in whatever soil, is that of properly taking the soil samples. Soil sampling instructions are given on our Soil Analysis web page, and also in the Appendix of the earlier versions of Hands-On Agronomy and in the chapter dealing with soil testing in the revised and expanded version. Once the soil sampling has been correctly accomplished, the proper foundation can be established, and the recommended corrections made accordingly. Unfortunately, too many in agriculture have rejected the very tools needed to best accomplish this! The answer involves learning and accurately applying consistent testing, reporting, and interpreting of each soil’s nutrient-holding capacity - and the saturation of key nutrients - in that soil. Another problem for achieving desired quality and production is in accepting recommended nutrients or their cost as a necessary expense. Our recommended fertilizer applications can be quite different from what has been recommended for that soil in the past. There may be several reasons why. First of all, we have four different fertility programs listed on our worksheet for the grower to choose from : "excellent", "building", "maintenance", and "minimum input". Most farmers select "excellent". This will be the most expensive; many who grow the standard crops should consider choosing a maintenance - type program, especially when the fertilizer budget will be limited. Even then, those who think in terms of minimum input may maintain that this type of fertility program is too expensive, application rates are too high, etc. The real question is not how to cut fertilizer use to “save” money, but how to utilize soil fertility to maximize the return on investment. We have to give growers both accurate information and recommendations or they will not achieve that proper return. The goal is to help and encourage clients we already serve to achieve the best they can from the resources they have. This program provides the educational principles required for obtaining maximum benefits. And the longer clients stay on the program, and the more they study and learn to correctly apply it, the better their returns. Understanding basic soil principles still provides farmers, ranchers and growers the foundation for increasing yields and/or quality.
Just one more point for those concerned that this program could cause hardship to someone by having them spend too much, or too little, on fertilizers. Growers from all over the world use this program. Some have never grown the same crops that grow here. But all new clients are encouraged to first set aside a small acreage, test and treat it as directed for three full years, and compare results to whatever they are currently doing for a soil fertility program. This has convinced and secured our best clients because soil fertility, in too many cases, has previously been far too low; built on the minimum instead of the excellent levels in the soil. Time after time, those on this program say it is this extra soil fertility that provides the consistent yields and quality year in and year out, when others just did not quite make what was necessary, for one reason or another.
Question: How long will it take to have a soil analyzed and receive soil fertility recommendations back from your company? Answer: It can vary according to the time of year. If you must have soil recommendations back by a certain date, always contact our office first to be sure it is possible to meet your deadline.
While we make use of computer analyses our recommendations still require our carefully considering every sample individually, taking into account the crop to be grown; previous crop history if known; target yield; type of soil fertility program - whether conventional or organic; fertilizer preferences of the client; and all other pertinent information that is supplied.. Supplying this type of data, and especially what is requested on our soil sample worksheet - to the best of each grower's knowledge - always helps to ensure high quality recommendations that match your particular operation and aims. Unfortunately this necessary individual attention for each sample can also lengthen the turn-around time required for making a proper recommen- dation. We have continued to improve our ability to process samples at a faster and faster rate, but as we do, the volume continues to increase at an even greater pace! The need to balance soil nutrients. Every measured plant nutrient is deficient, sufficient or excessive to some extent in every soil. If you have too little of one element in the soil, you will have too much of some other element there. In either case, whatever is to be grown there will suffer in some way as a result. If you already have, or if you decide to put an excess of any nutrient into a soil, it will tie up other nutrients - causing a deficiency of something else that crop needs to do its best. That is the true meaning of achieving balanced soil fertility. Our service checks and advises for both excesses and deficiences; such an examination requires more time to complete than just sending back a set of measured numbers with fertilizer requirements aimed at feeding the plant.
Those who have worked with us over the years come to appreciate that the turn-around time needed for recommendations is only one of several important factors when it comes to building a balanced nutrient capacity for the soil. Using the soil analysis to determine the exact fertility needs of that particular soil for the intended crop is what actually matters most. Such detailed work requires extra time for completion. Planning ahead to be sure the soil samples are taken and sent to us in a timely manner, sometimes even before the present crop is harvested, can make a big difference.
As we continue to receive more and more soils for analysis and recommendations, we stress to new clients that except in the case of a real emergency it will take time to get results back. This generally means 3 - 4 weeks from the time we receive the samples, but can be as long as 6 - 8 weeks durting the rush season. (Exceptions include "rush" situations involving clients who call ahead of time to request possible arrangements for special needs or problems). Always call us before sending in any samples you need to get recommendations for quickly. Please be aware that just requesting a "rush" when sending the sample to us does not mean we can do so. Everyone is in a rush! For samples to receive special priority treatment, it must be pre-approved, and the approval number and the name of the person who gave out that number, included with the actual samples. Thank you for your understanding.
Be sure to send in a completed worksheet. The model we use for doing soil fertility analysis stresses that there are specific levels of each nutrient that must be determined, achieved and maintained in order to attain maximum output from any soil. These levels are generally not adequately established just by looking at the raw data on the soil being tested. It requires scrutinizing the various nutrient levels as they appear on the test and correlating them with all the information requested on the soil worksheet. The value of sending a completed worksheet with every set of samples cannot be emphasized enough. We will supply worksheets on request; also you can download a worksheet. A worksheet should be completed and sent in with each set of soil samples. Depending on the information provided and what is to be grown on that soil, recommendations may vary considerably.
If you live outside the United States please contact us for complete instructions before sending any samples for testing and analysis. Special arrangements must be made beforehand in order to correctly clear U.S. Customs. New Homeland Security rules are in force and if you do not follow the rules correctly it can result in long delays before we receive the samples for testing. We recognize that our program of testing and individual recommendations may not fit the needs or desires of everyone who wants to test their soil. If you just want a set of numbers in a hurry so as to obtain a general N-P-K recommendation, you may obtain a quicker turn-around elsewhere. But for those who feel the quality and accuracy of soil recommendations are of utmost importance, we hope you will consider working with us.
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