It is, without a doubt, that certain soil nutrient levels are analyzed and prioritized above others. This is with good reason, but what are the other soil test packages for, and when should they be utilized?
At A&L Great Lakes Laboratories, we offer an extensive variety of soil test packages. Our most common being the S1 package, which includes Soil Organic Matter, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, pH, Buffer pH, CEC and Base Saturation of Cations. This soil test data is the foundation for most applications or amendments. These key nutritional values must be met before exploring the micronutrient packages offered. A prime example would be soil pH. Ensuring the soil pH is correct is the most economically sound decision as it impacts the availability of all nutrients in the soil.
Available Micronutrient Packages
Once the basic soil test levels included in the S1 package are sufficient, the micronutrient list can be perfected. Unfortunately, most micronutrient deficiencies are determined in-season. At this point, it can be too late, or yield loss has already begun. Such as, when corn is in the younger stages. It will show interveinal chlorosis, or yellow striped leaves when experiencing sulfur deficiency. Assuming soil moisture and temperature are not the culprits of poor nutrient uptake, a preseason soil sample and application could have prevented this.
The best practice is to stay ahead of low, or deficient, levels of any micronutrient. This requires a micronutrient package to be added to the submittal form. S3 and S6 are the most utilized packages in addition to the S1. When selecting an additional package, it is not always necessary to add to every sample. Sometimes it is more economical to put the micronutrient package on a composite, or every other sample. This is practiced with large data pools over small collection areas. For more information on soil test packages, please visit: https://algreatlakes.com/pages/soil-analysis. For help determining the right micronutrient strategy for you, please reach out to your regional ALGL agronomist.