When sampling the soil, check for the presence of worms as an indicator of soil health. Worm populations are impacted by pH, waterlogging, compaction, tillage and organic matter management. Soil carbon and organic matter are also good indicators of soil health. Improving these parameters will enhance microbial activity, nutrient supply, water retention, and soil structure.
Checking and correcting soil pH will also ensure that nutrients are not ‘locked up’ and are fully available to a crop. It’s important to remember that soils will increase in acidity every year due to a build-up of hydrogen ions, which can lead to a reduction in soil fertility unless corrected. Optimal soil pH is 7, to maximise the availability of all soil nutrients.
Good soil management will also help maintain ground cover and organic matter, preventing erosion and runoff. With soil sampling now a legal requirement, producers should speak to their local ForFarmers’ account manager or forage specialist to discuss testing options.