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Soil Tech Note 2A- Soil Assessment

Soil Assessment


  • Need to know what your soil is like NOW before you know what your soil NEEDS!


  • Examine top 12 to 24 inches.
  • Use garden spade.
  • Use soil probe.
  • Observe when digging backhoe pit for FFA soil contest site, fixing tile line, replacing fence posts, etc.


  • Evaluate Chemical, Physical, Biological soil properties present.
  • Soil structure size and type – smaller structure units better.
  • Plant rooting depth and “health” of the roots? – active roots to 3 feet is good, shallow roots in upper few inches only indicates a problem.
  • Residue accumulating on the surface? - several years of residue still present indicates low biological activity, only one year residue means active microbes.
  • Look for ants, bugs, worms, etc. – these macro critters need to be present for complete biological soil health!
  • Dense layer at 7 – 10 inches? – could be caused by tillage!
  • Roots of various sizes but all healthy – downward or sideways? – sideways roots indicate some sort of a restricting soil layer!