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Guide offers tips for successful soil sampling

A new Montana State University Extension Service publication is available to identify optimal soil sampling strategies to best characterize soil nutrient levels.

Also, for producers who want to apply different nutrient rates across a field to optimize yield and fertilizer use, this guide discusses how to divide a field into management zones.

"The main goal of soil sampling is to characterize the nutrient status of a field as accurately and inexpensively as possible," said Clain Jones, Extension soil fertility specialist in MSU's Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences.

"If soils were uniform, this would be easy, however, nutrient levels are generally quite variable across a field," Jones said. For example, phosphorus levels have been observed to vary more than any other nutrient within a field. In addition, different soil sampling strategies can account for this variability better than others.

Unfortunately, collecting a soil sample representative of an entire field is not a simple task. "Having a better understanding of several different soil sampling strategies should help producers achieve their goals," said Jones. The new MontGuide describes optimal soil sampling strategies to obtain representative soil samples and the number of soil samples to collect per field for a desired accuracy level.

Click here to download the complete guide.

A new Montana State University Extension Service publication is available to identify optimal soil sampling strategies to best characterize soil nutrient levels.

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