Importance of Soil Testing and Soil Health Management

    23-Jun-2022
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Dr Lydia Zimik
Contd from previous issue
Divide the field and sample each section individually if the regions within it differ significantly in crop growth, soil appearance, or elevation, or are known to have been cropped, fertilised, and manured differently.
2. Take a sample of each region as a whole. Remove the surface litter first, then collect a small sample from the surface to plough depth from a variety of locations around the field (10 to 15 per acre). Take these samples and place them in a clean container.
3. Do not take a sample from an out-of-the-ordinary location. Avoid places that have just been fertilised, old bunds, and swampy regions, as well as areas near trees, compost piles, and other non-representative areas. To plough depth, take a consistent thick sample from the surface. With a spade or a trowel, dig a v-shaped hole, then cut a uniform thick slice of soil from the exposed soil face's bottom to top, collect the sample, and place it in the bucket.
4. Pour the dirt from the bucket onto a clean towel or piece of paper and carefully mix before discarding by quartering. Quarterly testing may be accomplished by mixing the sample thoroughly, splitting it into four equal parts, rejecting two opposing quarters, mixing the remaining two sections, dividing into four parts, rejecting two opposite quarters, and so on. Before packaging, the sample should be air dried in the shade for an hour or two.
5. Each cotton bag should be large enough to carry a 500 g soil sample and well labelled to allow for sample identification. For each sample, fill out the soil sample information page and include it with the soil sample. Send the samples to the Soil Testing Laboratory for analysis.
6. When you receive the soil test and fertiliser suggestion report from the soil testing laboratory, keep a note of the areas studied for future reference.
Soil micronutrient levels have decreased as a result of the use of high-yielding cultivars, intensive cropping, and reduced use of organics, as well as a shift to high-uses of NPK fertilisers. Soil fertility has a direct link with crop yields, given that all other factors are in excellent functioning condition. As a result of a continuous cropping system without adequate fertiliser supplies, there is a good risk that significant nutrient shortfalls may develop over time. The physical properties of the soil, as well as the availability of nutrients, affect its productivity. Plants would not be able to use the nutrients in the soil unless the soil was in good structural condition.
Conclusion : Soil testing may be performed to determine and quantify the availability of key plant nutrients in the soil. Modern soil tests, on the other hand, are based on concepts and processes devised some decades ago, with little change in their overall approach. To perform an appropriate soil test, one must first understand the physicochemical and biological characteristics of soil, as well as the activities that occur at the soil-root interface. This information will guide future soil and crop sustainability by solid prescriptive effective soil management techniques for nutrient availability through organic and inorganic fertiliser sources.
The writer is SMS (Agronomy), ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Imphal West, ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur Centre