Your soil analysis has just arrived in the mail or you've just picked it up from your nearby testing centre and now to go over the results. Understanding Your Lawn Soil Test results may be difficult as many of these test results are written in strange scientific terms for most of us.
For most of you the first result reported will what is used as a benchmark for your soil, it is called cation exchange capacity or CEC. This term in the simplest sense describes your soils ability hold nutrients. The more elevated the CEC number is, the greater the soils capacity and in turn the more possible the soil will be productive. A low CEC number indicates a lesser capacity to hold nutrients and less of a possibility the soil will be productive.
The next result indicated most likely will be soil Ph levels. There are two types of pH, active pH and buffer pH.
So what is pH anyway? pH indicates potential Hydrogen. Soil pH is the amount of the acidity or alkalinity of a soil, 7 for soils indicates a neutral pH, as this number rises above 7 it indicates a more alkaline soil and as this number falls below 7 it indicates a more acidic soil. The soil pH scale commonly in use ranges from 0 to 14. Most grasses thrive best with a soil Ph of 6-7.
In bit more detail, active pH is the measure of hydrogen ions in the soil in the root segment of your lawn. The greater the amounts of hydrogen there, the lower the pH and in turn the more acidic the soil is. The opposite occurs when less hydrogen is found which indicates less acidity and thereby a higher number on the pH scale.
Next, buffer pH indicates the soil’s ability to change. So to make sense of this each soil type has a different rate at which is able to change. For all soil types a reading of 8 indicates an alkaline soil base. But to bring it down to neutral the amount of sulfur needed to increase the acidity in sandy soils would be greater than clay based soils as the sandy soils have a lower CEC than clay based soils.
To continue, we should next understand the nutrients your soil (and lawn) need. There are two types, macronutrients and micronutrients.
First macro-nutrients, which are nutrients eaten by grasses in the large amounts and the soil analysis will usually list these first. The greatest nutrients are Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the three numbers you will see on a fertilizer bag. As these are important nutrients, a soil test report will give amounts necessary to apply for any soil deficiencies.
Secondly, Micronutrients are eaten by grasses in minute (tiny) amounts. Even though they are used in only small amounts doesn't lower their importance in the health of your grass. There are many micronutrients that are necessary to your soil the most common are Boron, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese and Sulfur.
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here. Finally, Organic matter which is necessary for you to have healthy soil and in turn a healthy lawn. This organic matter is the main nutrient source for micro-organisms. Soil microbes exist in huge numbers and breakdown soil elements into a form that can be digested by plant roots. Without micro-organisms, plant life would cease to exist.
These soil microbes are the natural enemy to many disease pathogens (the first link in the chain of infection) that live in the soil. Soils that are rich in fresh organic matter have the fewest problems with grass diseases.
Regrettably, soil microbe results are not listed on the soil test report. An abundant microbe population provides the greatest promise of achieving healthy soil.
Any product found to provide and increase your lawns’ microbe numbers would be of great value to your soil and therefore your lawn.
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I hope this helps with Understanding your lawn soil test results.
“Keep It Simple to Succeed” lets get out there and make our lawns healthy and green!