This past week I have had questions from several landowners who are planning to plant new pastures or improve forage production next year. This of course is dependent on adequate rainfall and other factors. Fall is a perfect time to have a soil analysis done on your property.
Periodic soil testing, followed by liming and fertilization according to soil test recommendations, is critically important to achieve good forage production and maintain forage stands. On most livestock farms in Smith County, no other management practice will have more long-term influence on animal production per acre.
Soil test recommendations are based on the assumption that the forage produced will be utilized. Thus, it is important for a producer to adjust stocking rates and grazing management as necessary to ensure that the forage produced is used. This is essential to obtain the maximum or near maximum benefit from the investment in fertilizer.
In forage production, as is the case for most crops, the major nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium — are of greatest concern because their deficiencies are most common. Each of these nutrients must be available in substantial quantities to obtain profitable, environmentally friendly forage production.
When soil pH becomes too low for good crop growth, as is the tendency for many of the soils in Smith County, it becomes necessary to apply sufficient lime to raise soil pH to a desired level. The soil test bags and the sample forms are available free at the Smith County Extension Office. I would suggest the $12 per sample analysis be conducted. Let me know if you need any assistance once you get it back. Remember, soil testing is not an exact science. I always use the following analogy, “Do you put oil in your vehicle without checking the dipstick first?” Having a soil test will get you closer to your production goals and offer the opportunity to not to waste a nutrient that is not needed.
If you have any further questions, please contact Clint Perkins at the Smith County Extension Office, 1517 W. Front St. in Tyler, or call 903-590-2980.