Optimize Crop Production and High Input Costs
With the increase of fertilizer, herbicide, and seed prices, soil tests allow producers to make informed decisions about their growing plans. Now is a good time to submit soil tests, before you go out and fertilize or plant. When you get your results back, then it's time to make and implement a production plan for the upcoming year.
The level of pH in your soil profile shouldn't be ignored. Optimum pH levels are between 6 and 7 and allow plants to access the nutrients that are already present in your soil. If your pH is low, adding lime will increase it and is typically less expensive than adding other nutrients.
If your phophorus and potassium levels are very low, or low, then you will likely see large yield increases from adding nutrients and it could be worth the input costs. However, it may be better to wait and work with a lower yield this year if you have acceptable nutrient levels. Re-test the soil next year to determine how much reduction occured and make a new plan based off that information.
If you want to consider manure fertilizers instead of commercial chemicals, keep in mind that they can come with additional weeds and the nutrients take a little longer to be available to the plants so there will be a delayed response.
Timing of fertilizer and herbicide applications will also be critical this year. Avoid application immediately before rain events and attempt to have the fertilizer in place for when the plants will be growing rapidly.
Don't forget to reach out to the extension office if you have questions about soil test results or building a production plan.