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Testing soil fertility can result in better nutrient management decisions


May 21, 2024  by UMass Amherst

The UMass Extension Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is open to the public and currently testing samples to assess how well the soil will support the kinds of crops one is hoping to grow. If your soil sample is unsuited to your agricultural requirements, the lab will suggest custom measures that you can take to amend your soil. The analyses costs $20 and will be completed in only 6 – 10 business days, thanks in part to a new pH-testing robot that significantly cuts down the testing time.

“We average 15,000 soil samples a year,” says Sam Glaze-Corcoran, the soil lab’s manager, “and though we’re open all year, we get approximately 30% of our requests during the spring.”

The soil lab focuses on the needs of agriculturalists, from backyard gardeners to landscapers, golf-course managers and commercial farmers. “Though we do a lead screening,” says Glaze-Corcoran, “we’re not focused on toxicology. Instead, you tell us what you want to grow—apples, or turf, or carrots—and we tell you if your soil has the right nutrients and pH, and how to improve it if it needs improvement.”

These recommendations reduce fertilizer costs, optimize productivity, support increased soil health and carbon sequestration, detect dangerous metals, support compliance with state nutrient management regulations and help prevent excess nutrients from entering the environment. | READ MORE

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