Investigating the Value of Soil Health Testing
OSU, Madison County
Farmers wanted help identifying ways to measure and benchmark soil health. It was important that the tests were affordable to run, reliable in providing information about changes in the soil, and repeatable and consistent to be able to monitor changes over time. Could we meet these criterion by collecting samples from fields across Ohio and compare test results with field management practices to produce guidelines for soil health testing and result interpretation? Samples were collected from 376 fields across Ohio from 2020-2022. Samples were sent to a soil testing lab for analysis for standard soil fertility including organic matter, and emerging soil health indicators: permanganate oxidizable carbon (POxC), respiration, and wet aggregate stability. Soil properties were evaluated to determine if changes could be detected based on past management of the fields sampled. We found that sampling depth had an impact on results and should be consistent over time. Soil type also influenced results; therefore, it is recommended that comparisons be made within fields over time. There was an upward trend in POxC as years of continuous cover crop use increased. CO2 respiration showed a downward trend as years of continuous no-till increased but multiple years under cover crops held respiration steady. The soil health indicators tested showed the ability to detect differences based on management over time and have the potential to be used to track changes in soil health at the field level. Sampling depth and soil type are important considerations when making comparisons and benchmarking soil health. Through this work, Ohio farmers were provided with recommendations for selecting soil health tests and results to help them understand what the results mean.
Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC
This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.
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Authors: Amanda Douridas, Elizabeth Hawkins, Jason Hartschuh
Douridas, A. Extension Educator, The Ohio State University, Ohio, 43140
Hawkins, . Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems, The Ohio State University, Ohio, 45177
Hartschuh, J. Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, The Ohio State University, Ohio, 43420