Microbial Content Could Change Future of Soil Testing

Kelly MarshallAg Group, Nitrogen, Nutrient Management, Soil, Soil Sampling


If soil sampling for information about fertilizer application or soil pH is important on your farm then changes may be in your future.  The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) recently released a blog post that goes into detail about the presence of microbes in the soil how that affects nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium recommendations.

“In a recent Canadian study, straw residue on various farms showed strikingly different rates of decomposition,” writes Will Brinton, soils scientist at the University of Main and Director of Woods End Soils Lab.  “Earthworms were cited as a major factor for reducing the time it took for litter to disappear. The earthworms eat and digest the plant residue, moving nutrients back into the soil more quickly. There are new tests that show the activity of microbes in soil; it is often directly related to earthworm counts.”

Currently the presence of microbes are largely overlooked when it comes to soil testing, but that could change in the future, Brinton explains.  Reports could move towards a change, listing not just the nutrients found but also breaking that down into the source of the nutrient as well.

Read the full blog post to learn more about the future of soil testing.