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Wheat School: Soil pH, salinity, and choosing the right soil test

By: RealAgriculture Agronomy Team

November 27, 2019

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When send soil samples for testing, what do you ask for?

If you’re following Ross McKenzie’s advice, there’s likely some real value in testing more than just nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and sulphur (NPKS).

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The former soil scientist with Alberta Agriculture says it’s not too late to test soil this year, as frozen ground may require more effort to sample, but the samples should be stable, offering a decent look at what will be there for the crop in the spring.

McKenzie says there is great value in knowing what NPKS is available, but several other soil components are also valuable to measure, as they can have a significant impact on nutrient availability or identify why you’re short yield in certain areas of the field landscape.

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If you’re soil testing, consider testing for:

McKenzie says to double check that the lab doing the soil analysis is using the correct phosphorus extraction method when testing. Depending on the province you’re in, there are some major differences in the findings. For example, Manitoba soil samples typically use the Olson method, but that method won’t give as accurate results for Alberta samples. The Olson method works best on higher pH soils, like in Manitoba.

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Check out more Wheat School episodes here