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Ep. 29: Nick Ward – Setting Yourself Up for Soil Sampling Success

Soil sampling

Founded in 1983 by Dr. Ray Ward and his wife, Jolene, Ward Laboratories has worked closely with SHP over the years to facilitate soil testing and analysis for SHP farmers. Nick Ward, the company’s president, joins host John Mesko on this episode of The People of Soil Health to explain what goes on behind the laboratory doors with soil samples, addressing many of the industry’s most discussed soil sampling questions to help farmers choose what process is best for their operation. 

Ward shares his perspective on the great ‘spring versus fall soil sampling’ debate and some important tips on how to pull samples for optimal soil activity, including: 

  1. Wait until soil temperatures reach 50-55 degrees or warmer prior to pulling soil cores because there is significantly more soil activity. 
  2. Sample at a 0”-6” or 0”-8” depth with no lubricants. 
  3. No matter the time of year samples are pulled, the key ingredient is to stay consistent. Depth and time of year need to remain the same. It’s also important to know you aren’t married to a specific date. It could be as generic as pulling a soil sample two weeks after frost. 
  4. While it is to your discretion as to when you pull soil samples, there will be obvious differences if you were to compare a soil sample from fall and spring in the same location – that’s okay! 
  5. Remember the goal is to create trend lines in the results of your soil sampling to watch how the biology make-up of your soil has bettered over time. 

To learn more about what soil health indicators Ward Laboratories looks at, how different locations in the field affect the type of soil samples taken, and a more in-depth discussion of soil sampling processes, tune into Episode 29 of The People of Soil Health Podcast on your favorite podcast platform or using the player above!