Smith County Extension Agent
Soil is basic to all agricultural ventures, including the home lawn, farming, raising livestock and the home garden. Knowing your soil condition can help save you money while providing adequate nutrients at the correct amounts to our plants. Soil types vary around East Texas with many soils being acidic. The only true way to determine your soil condition is to perform a soil test.
Soil pH is a measure of hydrogen ion activity in the soil solution. The soil pH scale extends from 0 to 14; soil pH ranging in the 6.6 to 7.3 range is considered neutral. A pH range below 6.6 is considered acidic, while a pH range above 7.3 is considered alkaline or basic. Although a decrease in soil pH from 6.0 to 5.0 does not appear significant, there is a 10-fold increase in soil acidity for every whole unit cha-nge in soil pH.
Optimum nutrient uptake by most crops occurs at a soil pH at near 7.0. The availability of fertilizer nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium generally is reduced as soil pH decreases. Fertilizer efficiency and crop performance are reduced when soil acidity is not controlled.
Limestone is used to raise pH. All limestone is not the same and may react more or less efficiently based on the particle size and neutralizing value of the liming material. Smaller particles react more rapidly in the soil to change soil pH. Limestone in Texas is sold according to the ECCE value (Effective Calcium Carbonate Equivalent). The ECCE is expressed as a percentage.
The East Texas Farm and Ranch Club, Smith County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service of Smith County are working together to collect soil samples for our fall 2012 Soil Testing Campaign.
Samples for agricultural purposes are being collected now until Oct. 19. Producers may submit any number of samples they desire. The Smith County Soil and Water Conservation District will pay the cost of analysis for two agricultural samples per Smith County producer with the producer paying the fee for the remainder of the samples submitted.
For more information you also may call 903-590-2980.
The samples may be turned into our office or at the Oct. 18 East Texas Farm and Ranch Club monthly meeting at the Overton Research and Extension Center. Once collected, the samples will be carried to the laboratory for analysis, and the results will be discussed at the November meeting of the East Texas Farm and Ranch Club.
Dr. Leon Young, professor and Soil Testing Laboratory director at Stephen F. Austin State University, will be the speaker for the Nov. 15 program. Young will go over the test results and discuss the importance of soil testing to our forage program.
Soil testing is an important tool to determine nutritive requirements for forages and other crops for our agricultural ventures. Fall is a good time to get this done in case lime is needed to raise the pH of your soil.
Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.