Read the basics of  taking a forage soil sample to get the most out of your Florida beef pastures, from UF/IFAS Extension agents.

Soil health is an important part of any beef cattle operation that utilizes forages in the pasture. As such, it highlights the importance of the forage soil sample. This process gives beef operators first-hand knowledge about what is going on in the soil, and it is the start of the map to best manage fertilizers, balance pH, and more. An article on the South Florida Beef-Forage Program’s website shares some tips and tricks about the basics of taking soil samples in the beef pasture. See a summary below.

Basics of Taking a Forage Soil Sample

The following is a summary of the topics addressed in the article:

Why is it good to take soil samples?

  • Nutrient amounts in the soil matches plant needs.
  • Future nutrient applications match and do not exceed the needs of the plants
  • Monitor and correct soil acidity levels (pH) to ensure nutrient uptake.

Soil Test Results and Interpretations:

  • Soil acidity (pH)
  • Lime and Fertilizer recommendations
  • Nutrient levels: Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca).

Tools needed:

  • Soil probe or trowel
  • Plastic bucket
  • Soil sample kit

How to sample:

  • An individual sample should represent no more than 10 acres.
  • Larger pasture of 15 acres, collect samples in a “W” shape/pattern.
  • Considerations for sampling specific areas: Past management, Cropping history, Individually sample areas that have received different management or vary in soil type, have suffered erosion or that are different in topography.
  • Collect at least 20 soil cores for small areas and up to 30 cores for larger fields.
  • Forages on average will utilize the first four (4) to six (6) inches of depth in our soil. Take a core sample that is comprised of equal amounts of soil from zero (0) to six (6) inches in depth.
  • Randomly take the soil cores throughout the sampling area and place them in a plastic bucket.

DON’T sample:

  • Dung piles.
  • Old fencerows or under trees.
  • Areas used for manure or hay storage.
  • Livestock feeding areas.
  • Where lime was previously stockpiled.

See all the recommendations in the article here.

Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.