Most of us push off thoughts of growing until late winter or early spring. But before you become obsessed with “decking your lawn with holiday décor” give your soil a little consideration. If you use fertilizer on your lawn or garden, then you should be soil testing every three years. For a little bit of your time, postage and nine dollars you can have some very specific information about one of the most important assets on your property – the soil resource.
Soil testing is especially important if you are someone who uses fertilizer, as it provides critical information for the land user to make informed decisions. Most people who fertilize do it out of habit. And fertilizer is so inexpensive and easy to use, that we don’t give it much thought. But statistics tell us that those of us who put fertilizer on our yards are generally doing so at a rate of eight times the amount farmers put on crop fields. Excessive fertilizer is washed to our rivers and streams every time it rains. Once it gets to the river it causes algae problems, robs oxygen from the water, and is a leading contributor of poor water quality.
The Hype About No Phosphorus Fertilizer – The leading components of fertilizer are Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. They are generally represented in this order on a bag of fertilizer by three numbers separated by hyphens. Fertilizer manufacturers are now producing phosphorus-free products because phosphorus attaches itself to the soil and stays there much longer than nitrogen does. Phosphorus is largely blamed across the U.S. for serious water quality impacts like those we are experiencing in this region in the Ottawa River, Grand Lake, and Lake Erie. So soil testing is an important step in actually knowing how much fertilizer your lawn or garden needs. It just doesn’t make sense to fertilize out of habit when you can save money and have your efforts protect local water resources.
Allen SWCD can mail out a soil test form to you, or forms can be downloaded from their website on the soils page. For more information on soil testing call 419-223-0040 x3.