PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series, Part Two:
Soil Analysis Report
A soil analysis report is a breakdown of the findings from tests performed on a sample of soil that was taken from a property. Taking a soil sample and having it evaluated is worth nothing if the soil analysis report isn’t then reviewed by the professional applicator in charge of fertilizing a property and shared with the homeowner of the property. The information about the soil’s nutrient availability is very important to the customization of the yard’s fertilizer program and lends great information to applicator and homeowner alike.
As we learned in Part One of this PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series, having a soil analysis performed is like getting bloodwork done, but for your lawn. A yearly soil analysis report is a very useful tool for monitoring the state and progress of a lawn’s soil nutrient and chemical values. Soil samples are usually taken in the beginning of the year before the first application of fertilizer when the values being tested are most at rest. While homeowners can pursue taking their own samples, a professional fertilization company like PPLM will usually offer this service, be able to have a trained member of their team pull the sample, and then have a professional applicator evaluate the soil analysis report for the homeowner. Soil samples are collected by professionals with soil probes that can produce a core of soil three to six inches from the surface. Depending on how a soil sample is taken and where it is analyzed, a soil analysis can range from $10 to $50.
A soil sample is collected by probe from a lawn.
In this part of the PPLM Soil Sample FAQ Series, we will examine what is involved in having a soil sample analyzed and the basics of receiving and interpreting a soil analysis report. The greatest value for a homeowner in having a professional applicator perform a soil analysis for them is the ability of this person to then interpret the soil analysis report. A professional applicator can then use this interpretation to make recommendations for the most effective fertilizer program to correct the soil deficiencies.
Where Do You Get A Soil Sample Analyzed?
A soil sample can be tested at a local commercial lab that is able to analyze different types of minerals and composition qualities. There are several reputable commercial labs like this in every state. In the Richmond, Virginia area, PPLM has a strong relationship with the local branch of Waypoint Analytical. Waypoint Analytical is a commercial laboratory that can provide a versatile, detailed, and user friendly soil analysis report for samples provided to them for testing.
Some local fertilizer distribution centers will offer a soil analysis for DIY homeowners that bring in their own sample and will send it out to a lab that they’re affiliated with in turn. DIY homeowners can also work with their state’s cooperative extension or an agricultural branch of a local university that may offer soil testing services. The downside to these DIY options is that the homeowner is often on their own when it comes to interpreting the soil analysis report and making necessary changes to the fertilizer program they are applying to their lawn.
A soil analysis shows very good levels for everything being tested.
Who Is Interpreting My Soil Analysis Report?
If a homeowner has invested in working with a professional turf management company like PPLM for their fertilizer and lawn care needs, the soil analysis report for the property will be interpreted by an experienced an licensed professional applicator. At PPLM, every soil analysis report is interpreted and explained by Brandyn, the head of our fertilizer division and one of PPLM’s owners. A qualified applicator like Brandyn has had thousands of soil analysis reports cross their desk. The interpreting applicator is well educated on each piece of data the report shows as well as how these values relate to each other.
In addition to interpreting the data shown in the soil test, the turf management professional is also responsible for explaining the results to the homeowner. A soil test is a great opportunity for client education due to the wealth of data it shows and how it directly relates to their own personal lawn. Finally, the applicator receiving the soil analysis report will also be using the information shown to calculate and recommend corrective fertilizer treatments that act as ancillary applications to the standard fertilizer program. This type of program customization is a very useful way to accelerate the progress of a lawn with nutrient deficiencies.
PPLM’s Brandyn shows off a bagged soil sample ready for testing.
What Data Is Being Shown In A Soil Analysis Report?
A soil analysis report can show a range of data. More expensive reports will lend more detailed data that delves into micronutrients and other factors, but a standard analysis will be testing for seven main factors: soil pH, phosphorus levels, potassium levels, calcium levels, magnesium levels, a calculated cation exchange capacity, and the ratio of present organic matter.
● – Soil pH shows the acidity of the soil; soil that is too acidic kills off the microorganisms necessary to a healthy lawn, reduces the amount of nutrients from fertilizer that turf can actually absorb, and increases the prevalence of weeds, fungus, and grubs in a lawn.
● – Soil that is low in phosphorus will yield a lawn that is unable to sufficiently develop a healthy root system, making a fescue lawn vulnerable to heat stress in the summer.
● – Soil that is low in potassium will yield a lawn that has stunted growth throughout the turf and insufficient production of the chlorophyll needed for photosynthesis.
● – Soil that is low in calcium will not only likely be acidic, but it will also yield a lawn that has stunted growth throughout the turf as well as weaker cell walls needed for structural support and disease resistance.
● – Soil that is low in magnesium will yield a lawn that is weak in its metabolic processes and unable to absorb other nutrients like phosphorus; soil that is high in magnesium is usually made up of too much clay and will prevent water and nutrients from moving freely to the turf’s roots.
● – Soil cation exchange capacity is a useful figure that represents the amount of nutrients from fertilizer that can be retained at one time based on the soil composition.
● – Soil organic matter is a key component to a successfully established biome of microorganisms that support a healthy root structure and therefore a healthy lawn.
A soil analysis report may also show the ratio between certain elements, such as one between calcium and magnesium or potassium and magnesium. For every value shown, a sliding scale will be graphed that ranks this level in a low to high range based on what is ideal for turfgrass such as fescue. A typical soil analysis report will also indicate the calculated pounds of raw material needed to correct deficiencies or will suggest a basic fertilization program for DIY homeowners.
A standard soil analysis. For this property, calcium, magnesium, and cation exchange capacity levels are within a good range. The pH is higher than ideal. Phosphorus and organic matter levels are acceptable, but could be improved. Potassium levels are extremely insufficient.
How Long Does It Take To Get My Soil Analysis Report?
Once a soil sample is submitted to a testing facility, turn around time for the results can range from a week to several months. This timespan can depend on where the soil sample is being analyzed, what data is being tested, and how busy the lab is that time of year. With Waypoint Analytical, for example, PPLM usually delivers a batch of soil samples within a week of when they were taken from a property, and each soil analysis report is received usually two to three weeks from when the samples were delivered.
Do I Get To See My Soil Analysis Report?
Whether a homeowner is having a soil analysis performed as part of a DIY venture or is paying their turf management company to take a soil sample of have it analyzed for them, it should go without saying that the homeowner should get to see a copy of their soil analysis report. At PPLM, every client who receives soil testing is emailed personally by the head of our fertilizer division Brandyn with the report attached to the email once it comes back from the lab.
In his email, Brandyn breaks down what the soil analysis report is showing and what deficiencies he is most concerned with that that point. Brandyn then explains what his recommendations are for any necessary corrective treatments to speed up the process of building a lawn with healthy soil. This process is valuable not only so that homeowners can play an active role in understanding the quality of their lawn’s soil, but also so that they can build a strong and transparent relationship with the turf management professionals caring for their lawn.
A core of healthy soil.
A soil analysis report is an organized and useful breakdown of key nutrient and composition data that directly relate to the health and appearance of a lawn. In the next installment of PPLM’s Soil Sample FAQ Series, we will look at corrective treatment recommendations in more detail: what corrective treatments are, why they’re valuable, why they are usually an additional cost to a standard fertilization program, and what has caused the need for them in the first place. Have you had a soil analysis done on your property before? Comment on our blogs to share with us what you’ve learned from your own soil analysis report!
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Lawn Care Services That PPLM Provides
● – Tailored and Detailed Fertilization Programs
● – Weed Control
● – Aeration and Overseeding
● – Mosquito Control
● – Fungus Control
● – Grub Control
● – Nutsedge Control
● – Plus More…….
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