NEWBERRY COUNTY — Attention farmers, land owners and backyard gardeners: The Newberry Soil and Water Conservation District has a program that could help you with what you are growing.
The program, called the Soil Sampling Program, could make a big difference in the success of a farmer’s growing season.
“The Soil Sampling Program is a program that we do partnering with Clemson and Clemson Extension to test the soil for land owners, farmers, whoever,” said Danielle Himsey, NSWCD district coordinator. “Testing their soil helps them know, especially from a farming perspective, if they need to apply fertilizer, how they need to mend their soil so they can get the most out of it.
“A lot of farmers need it for their Comprehensive Nutrient Management Program, and a lot of people, like backyard gardeners, will need it to see if they are going to plant a vegetable garden, what kind of soil they need,” she said.
The NSWCD takes samples to the local Clemson Extension Office, which then takes the sample to the lab at Clemson. After testing, the results are emailed to Himsey, who in turn gives the results to the land owners.
“It will take about two weeks from the time the sample gets to Clemson for the results to come in. The total turn around is three to four weeks,” Himsey said.
The standard soil tests includes pH, buffer pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, copper and boron and sodium, lime requirements and recommendations.
Calculations for cation exchange capacity (the total capacity for soil to hold exchangeable cation), acidity and percent base saturation will also be included.
According to Himsey the results are from one end of the spectrum to the other. However, Himsey says there is always a way to get the soil to the level needed for whatever is being planted.
Wayne Satterwhite of Satterwhite Dairy and a commissioner at NSWCD goes through the NSWCD for soil sampling for a number of reasons.
“Know what kind of fertilizer to put on the crop you are going to plant, the sample tells you. You will also save money to do this,” he said. “Me being in livestock, I am required to have my soil sampled every year, just because of animal waste.”
One thing the samples have shown is that Satterwhite needed more potash (is any of various mined and manufactured salts that contain potassium in water-soluble form) where they plant corn. The samples also showed that one field needed some lime. Satterwhite said that each field has a different recommendation.
“The plants will grow better if they have the right nutrients under it,” he said.
Satterwhite added that even if he was not required to get the soil tested, it is something he would want to do because it will tell you exactly what you need.
Himsey said two individuals go out and get the samples. Land owners do not have to be there for the collection process.
“One thing about collecting the samples, the weather has to be just right. If it is too wet the soil sampler cannot go out and take samples, or too cold. Also if it has been too dry, we cannot take it because it is like going through a brick,” Himsey said.
It will usually take about two years for the soil to change dramatically, according to Himsey, but they still recommend getting soil tested annually because the soil can still be affected by what was planted the previous year, or by how much organic matter you have or do not have.
The cost is $13 for members of the NSWCD and $15 for non-members. The fee goes to paying the lab fees. Contact Himsey at 803-597-3160 for more information.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.