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Soil testing summary

  • Soil testing is a management tool that gives a measure of soil fertility and conditions. 
  • Soil testing should be done once a year. It is important to take soil samples at the same time of year, each year, to reduce variability in soil conditions and allow results to be compared from one test to the next.
  • Soil sampling involves taking 20 – 30 cores of a consistent size and depth. Specially designed soil samplers which take a 10cm core are preferable to using a shovel.
  • Samples should represent soil conditions in the particular paddock. Avoid sampling along fence lines, under trees, from dung or urine patches as these areas will have different fertility levels to the rest of the paddock and will give unrepresentative results.
  • The three most commonly deficient nutrients are phosphorous, potassium and sulphur.
  • Soil tests can also tell you about salinity, acidity, aluminium, structure, texture and organic carbon.
  • Target application of various products will depend on the soil type, rainfall, pasture species grown and the stocking rates.