According to one of the most recent farmer surveys, soil testing in some form is crucial to almost every farmer, regardless of farm size or expertise.
However, why, how, and how frequently farmers’ soil test depends on several factors.
Approximately one-third of all farmers polled believed in soil testing at least annually, while more than half (59%) thought it was vital to test only every few years. Furthermore, only 3% of farmers polled stated they never tested their soil, demonstrating that soil testing was essential to nearly all farmers in some form.
Beginning Farmers Soil Test More Frequently
Beginning farmers (those with one to nine years of farming experience) reported the highest frequency of soil testing, with the highest response rate (14%) for soil testing numerous times throughout the year. This shows that beginning or young farmers are likelier to test the soil.
Farmers with slightly more experience (10 to 19 years of farming experience) had the highest percentage of responses compared to many other age groups, implying that a combination of being new to farming and having some expertise made farmers more likely to test their soil routinely.
Mid-Size Farmers Most Likely to Test Pasture and Cropland More Frequently
According to the data, mid-sized farmers were the most likely to test their soil frequently. However, overlapping with years of experience, replies from mid- to large- or mega-sized farmers (with at least 5,000 acres of production) revealed they were the group that soil-tested their fields the most frequently.
Smaller crop producers (less than 1,000 acres) had the most significant percentage response indicating their soil tested the least frequently, no doubt due to a lower requirement to test diverse parts of cropland.
Farmers that have crops and pasture were found to be the most likely to test their soil regularly. On the other hand, large livestock producers or companies with at least a half-century of business experience were more likely to prefer testing pastureland over cropland, considering pasture to be the more significant type of soil to try.
Mid-sized livestock farmers were the least likely to test their soil, while small livestock producers (less than 1,000 acres) were more likely to try numerous times yearly.
Regardless of whether they were testing crops or pasture, over one-third of all farmers polled said they tried their fields at least once a year.
Top Reasons for Testing
Regardless of operation size or experience, the most common reason for soil testing was to test for nutrients. According to the statistics, crop producers were more likely to push for fertility and the best fertility rates, whereas pasture tests were more likely to determine soil type.
How would soil testing be handled? Farmers were most inclined to outsource sampling and testing across all operation sizes and expertise levels. Only one-fifth to one-third of all farmers polled stated they sampled soil themselves but had it tested by a lab.
Learn more: Soil Health Practices Boost Profits for Farmers