Taking Soil Samples
You should take soil samples every 2-3 years. Just take a shovel into the field, dig out the sod, grab a fistful of dirt, put it in a labeled Ziplock bag and send it to the lab. Okay, so the official instructions talk about probes, depth of sample, areas of sampling, taking a representative sample, how to label the containers, how not to label the containers, etc. But this is the essence.
Anyway, we now have a box of baggies full of dirt ready to go the University of Maine Soil Testing Lab in Orono. We’ve used UVM’s testing service, but I don’t find their reports to be too helpful. The point of this is to learn how to improve the health of the soil. What amendments should we apply to make the grasses and legumes grow better? Is the soil too acidic? Is it lacking phosphorous? How does this test compare to the previous one -have we improved the soil health?
As we took samples from several spots around the hay fields and vegetable garden. I noticed two things. First, all the soil samples were dry, brittle. None of the dirt would clump together if you squeezed it in your fist. Secondly, there was not a single earth worm. Earth worms are a sign of healthy soil. That we have none close to the surface indicates poor soil conditions -in this case, not enough rain this summer.
Anyone know how to perform a rain dance?
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Randy Robar, co-owner of Kiss the Cow Farm