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With a much warmer winter than typical, and almost no areas with snow cover, an early start to field activities is likely. Having a less hectic spring season due to favorable weather would be welcomed, and would provide more opportunities to catch up on any outstanding tasks, such as soil testing and manure spreading. Below, we will discuss each of these important analyses.

Maintaining current soil test records is essential to 4R Nutrient Stewardship. Capturing variability of fertility with soil samples allows the ‘right rate’ to be prescribed, which may be building high response soils, maintaining moderate soils with crop removal rates, and drawing down high fertility areas.

An early spring would allow for ‘right timing’ (no ground frost) and ‘right placement’ as well. For manure producers, a soil test identifies fields most in need of nutrients and organic matter.


Using average nutrient values for a specific livestock class is better than not accounting for nutrient rates at all. However, it may not be an accurate representation of the actual nutrient profile when managing nutrient inputs.

Testing each farm’s manure storage will allow for better accounting/crediting of nutrients as applied.


It is always a good reminder that a test is only as good as the sample provided.  Sampling error, that is reducing the large scale down to a small sample size to be tested, is the greatest contributor to margin of error. Composite sub-samples must be collected in a random but representative manner, and mixed thoroughly together, to make a final representative sample, containing enough material for the testing to be performed.

Sample size required (minimum):

  • 500 grams - soil*, solid manure, compost, feed/mill, greenhouse media, solid fertilizer
  • 500 ml - liquid manure, livestock water**, greenhouse water/solution, liquid fertilizer 
  • 200 grams - plant tissue (fresh)
*soybean cyst nematode, texture and metals require a separate sample
**200 ml required for microbiological analysis in bottles with preservative


As partners with the Grain Farmers of Ontario in our joint venture Grains Analytical Testing Lab, SGS is proud to be a Gold Sponsor at the annual GFO March Classic conference on March 21st at the London Convention Centre.

For delegates and attendees arriving the day before the conference, SGS cordially invites you to our reception with complimentary snacks and drinks on Monday night from 7 to 9 pm, at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel. Click here for more information about this event.

For further information, please contact: 

Jack Legg, CCA-ON
Branch Manager, Agronomist
503 Imperial Rd. N., Unit 1
Guelph, Ontario N1H 6T9
t: +1 519 837 1600