Farm Progress

Bring your soil to the fair and find out its overall health.

August 3, 2017

2 Min Read
SOIL TEST: Farmers and homeowners can receive free soil analysis at the Missouri State Fair. Bring in samples and 20 minutes later, find out the soil's overall health.stevanovicigor/iStock/Thinkstock

Farmers can have a soil test completed at the Missouri State Fair.

Visitors to the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 12 can get a free active carbon test of their soil, which gives insight into overall soil health.

The soil testing is a joint program from the University of Missouri, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Soil and Water Program at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, as the groups promote cover crops to protect soil and prevent runoff from crop fields.

Visitors can bring up to three samples, says Ryan Lock, a senior research specialist with MU's plant science division. The carbon health test takes about 20 minutes. Farmers can pick up the results during the fair.

Homeowners can also take part in the study by bringing soil samples from their lawn and garden.

What to bring
For testing, fairgoers should bring about one-third cup of air-dried soil in a zip-close bag. Tests will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Collect samples to compare crop systems. These samples could be from a conventionally tilled field, a no-till field and a grass-covered fence row. Carbon levels will be different in each. The test shows the impact growing plants have on soil health.

Get directions on sampling soil to evaluate soil health at MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Soil Health Assessment Center web page.

Where to drop sample
Testing is a part of a mini-symposium at the fair, Lock says. Booths staffed by the agencies will be on hand. DNR will have representatives to discuss cost-share programs.

The booths are in Mizzou Central, also known as the Mo-Ag Theater, on State Fair Boulevard.

Cover crops in modern agriculture are seeded at harvest, before tilled crop fields are exposed to erosion over winter. Carbon from the cover crop adds to soil health.

A demonstration of simulated rainfall on bare soil and a cover crop strip will show how water moves in fields with different management. Doug Peterson of NRCS will show this at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

The MU Soil Health Lab will conduct the free tests, which differ from traditional soil tests that measure nutrients.

Source: University of Missouri Extension


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