Good nutrient management starts with a sound understanding of soil properties. The following is a reference guide to understanding the components of your AgSource Laboratories soil analysis. It provides a brief description of the essential nutrients along with the various ranges to allow you to effectively interpret your results.
also referred to as Buffer Index, measures the response of the soil to a known amount of lime. Lime is added to soil to neutralize soil acidity and raise the pH. The Buffer pH values range downward from 7.5 indicating increasing amounts of lime required to raise the soil pH. The lower the value is below 7.5, the greater the amount of lime required.
refers to the stable by-products of decomposition that occur in the soil. The organic matter content, expressed as a percent, reflects the ability of the soil to supply nutrients, moisture and other physical benefits to growing plants. Productive soils can range from 0.5% up to 10% organic matter, depending on soil texture, local geographic and prevailing climatic conditions. Changes in organic matter content happen slowly but increases in OM are related to improvements in the health of the soil.
is an important constituent of plant cell walls, thereby giving overall strength to the plant. Calcium is also essential for good root development and may serve to neutralize some toxic compounds present in the plant. Calcium is abundant in mineral soils with pH above 6.0. Because calcium is the major component of limestone added to raise soil pH, it is adequately supplied to plants in the management of acidic soils as well. Calcium can be added to soil without raising the soil pH with applications of gypsum.
analysis provides information for use in reclaiming saline-alkali soils. Whenever Na exceeds 5% of the base saturation of a soil, water infiltration rates can be reduced and plant growth impaired. Gypsum, epsom salts and elemental sulfur are common amendments for aiding water infiltration rates in alkaline and sodium affected soils.