Improved website makes it easier to understand soil reports

By on July 18, 2012

Now is a great time to start preparing for fall plantings on your farm or home garden. And the first step in your preparations should always be a soil test. You can get a free soil test from the department’s Agronomic Services Division.

Soil reports provide a breakdown of the nutrients in your soil and recommendations on improving your soil before planting. The division’s Public Access Laboratory-information-management System was recently redesigned to make searching for reports easier and provides useful new features.

“The public will find the new search and download features more user-friendly,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “And growers who use GPS should notice more compatibility with their software.”

Although all the benefits of the reprogramming may not be obvious at first glance, returning users will notice the agronomic reports have a new design and include explanatory information and hyperlinks to additional resources.

The redesigned soil testing report makes it easier to understand pH and nutrient levels.

The most significant change in design is in the soil reports for home and garden samples, said Dr. Colleen Hudak-Wise, director of the Agronomic Services Division. “These reports are now streamlined to focus on information most critical to home gardeners: soil pH and recommendations for lime and fertilizer. Soil pH and nutrient levels are displayed graphically so clients can easily see if their soil parameters are above, below or within optimum ranges,” she said. Detailed guidelines explain how to select and apply lime and fertilizer.

The new website also contains advanced features for more experienced users, including the ability to generate revised fertilizer recommendations for different crops. With this feature, growers will no longer have to consult with a staff agronomist to get new recommendations when their crop plans change. Another new feature allows farmers to download report data in XML format. This change will benefit farmers using GPS software to map their fields and apply amendments.

The updates were made possible through funding by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. Additional features are scheduled to be implemented later this year. Follow the link to view the redesigned site.

Now is a good time to take soil samples for fall plantings projects, especially for home and gardens. Wait times are much shorter during late July and early August. Plus, taking soil samples now will give you plenty of time to add amendments to your soil before planting. For help taking a soil test, check out the video below:

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