Taking samples (soil, manure, forage, or water) is an important part of nutrient management. This information can help you:
- Determine agronomic application rate
- Budget fertilizer and manure use more effectively
- Monitor and adjust yields and feed quality
- Avoid feed toxicity and head health issues
- Self monitor and correct pollution sources
Click on the following area of interest to find out more about proper sampling techniques, handling procedures, and nutrient analysis information for:
Required Samples for Nutrient Management
- Comprehensive soil test every three years for each field or management unit (ground of fields) (click HERE to see what dairy operations are required to test for)
- Annual fall nitrate test for each field or management unit (ground of fields)
- Annual comprehensive manure test and in-field N test for rest. The number of manure tests taken per year will vary by operation and management. On average, it is recommended that you have a representative test for each season of crop application.
Voluntary, but Recommended Samples for Nutrient Management
- Forage tests. Taking a forage sample will help you determine the levels of nutrient such as N and K, which can both have detrimental effects on heard health if in excess.
- Irrigation water test. Irrigation water can have increased levels of N in the form of nitrate in certain geographic areas. Knowing how much N is in your irrigation water is important for N budgeting because if levels are high, fertilizer rates may need be adjusted to account for the extra N application.
- Surface water testing. If you are in a high risk area, or think you may have leaking tanks, tiles, fields, etc., you can test your own surface waters. This is a good self monitoring practice and a way you can determine if you need to make changes to your farm or practices, or protect yourself from your neighbors issues.