Turf is a versatile crop, capable of growing just about anywhere from rocky roads, to sandy plains, to salty coastlines. While it can grow under these soil conditions, proper soil testing can help ensure your turf is growing to its maximum potential, thus increasing your profitability in the process.
Soil testing is important for knowing exactly what nutrition you are missing from your turfgrass so it can be corrected as soon as possible. It’s recommended to soil test at least every two to three years. However, you can test every year should you choose. Because different soils exist in different regions, ensure that the lab tests are accurate to your region. Kevin Owens, a representative with Nutrien, says to exercise caution when interpreting your test results:
“Growers should be careful about assuming the recommendation on a soil test is definitive. Almost every lab has different recommendation guidelines, and these recommendations should only be used as a starting point. Other factors like turfgrass species, weather, historical data, and overall objective should be considered in conjunction with any soil test recommendation.”
He also has a few best practice tips for ensuring you get the most accurate soil tests possible:
“Time of year is important…do not test around a fertilizer or liming application. Do not test at the peak of the growing season; Test to the depth of the desired root zone; And lastly, while it is important to homogenize soil subsamples in turf, it is important that those subsamples be of a similar environment. For example, if one area is in full sun, and an adjacent area is in full shade, these samples should be individual, and not homogenized. Variables like weather conditions change how the turfgrass has performed in the past, and impacts what is currently in the soil.”
Soil acidity is one of the most important pieces of information contained within a soil test and managing the acidity properly will ensure your turf crop is getting the right nutrients at the right place, at the right time.
Sixteen nutrients play crucial roles in good turf health:
“The Big Three” nutrients (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen) generally make up approximately 90 percent of a plants weight, 13 other nutrients play smaller, yet pivotal roles among the remaining 10 percent. In terms of macronutrients, there are six essentials:
- Nitrogen, which affects a variety of factors including resistances, root growth and color;
- Phosphorus and Calcium, which affect maturation and root growth;
- Magnesium and Sulfur, which affect chlorophyll production; and
- Potassium, which affects hardiness, drought tolerance and disease resistance.
In terms of micronutrients, there are seven essentials:
- Chlorine and Copper, which play factors in photosynthesis and enzyme production;
- Molybdenum, which reduces nitrate buildup;
- Iron, Zinc, and Manganese, which play roles in photosynthesis and chlorophyll production among other functions; and
- Boron, which affects sugars.
In sandy or high pH soils, adding these micronutrients is particularly important. The exact amount of each nutrient will vary based on factors such as turf type, region, season, variety, and use.
“Good soil health is a collective effort, requiring good record keeping, regular soil testing, good cultural practices, and efficient fertility applications, just to name a few best practices when it comes to turf care,” says Kevin.
Rainbow Plant Food can help ensure you get an even distribution of essential nutrients for your turfgrass this year. The chemically homogeneous mixture ensures the same amount of each micronutrient is present in each individual granule, which are all uniform in size, shape, and weight, ensuring a consistently healthy crop. The nutrients exist in a highly available water-soluble sulfate form, so the action is quick on roots for your turf.
To learn how Rainbow Plant Food is made, click here.
For turfgrass application recommendations, click here
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