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Taking soil samples

Posted 5/16/2008 10:24am by Julie Hurst / Roy Brubaker.

The first weekend in May we filled the girls' wagon with yogurt containers, bread bags, a soil corer, and scissors and began making rounds through the pastures below the road.  In each paddock we pulled twelve soil cores and cut as many forage samples.  The samples from each paddock were mixed together, dried, and shipped off to a lab in Tennessee.  The girls were so excited to be little scientists and scrambled to claim a job in each paddock.  Like typical six-year-olds, their enthusiasm lasted for about an hour.  Soon  they were hungry and tired and Roy was just as happy to have them retreat to the house so he could finish the job.  While their enthuiasm lasted however, it was fun to have them looking for specific kinds of weeds and grass or pull earthworms from the soil samples. 

Budding scientists taking forage and soil sample.

The results of the samples will tell us which minerals we need to add to our soil to make it more productive.  In some of our paddocks we've noticed the tips of the grass yellows as it matures and in others the grass seems thin and sparse.  Ideally we should sample the soil every five years or so,  but it is a time-consuming process and this is the first time we sampled all the paddocks below the road and later this month we hope to do it for the four paddocks above the road as well.

Cutting forage samples for testing.

Taking soil samples for testing.