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. 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.