Fertilizer application and soil sampling during fall months can be efficient and time-saving practices, and are often the first step to developing an appropriate nutrient management strategy, report AgriEnergy Resources and the Potash and Phosphate Institute.

Environmental impact, time management, economics and soil conditions should be considered when looking to take advantage of the benefits of fall nutrient management practices. Following are reasons for fertilizing or soil testing in the fall.

5 Reasons To Fertilize In The Fall

  1. Fall fertilization saves time during hectic spring season and allows for faster spring planting without limiting crop yield.
  2. It rations the workload of both growers and dealers, easing the hectic and labor-intensive springtime tasks for everyone involved in the fertilizer application and planting process.
  3. It reduces the probability of soil compaction and associated problems. In many areas, fields tend to be drier in the fall than in the spring. Dry soils are much less susceptible to compaction from application equipment. Also, fall affords greater flexibility for scheduling applications to coincide with optimum soil conditions.
  4. It enhances reaction time, allowing lime to react with the soil to neutralize acidity. In reduced-tillage systems, more time is provided for nutrients to move into the root zone.
  5. It can be environmentally friendly due to less potential for intense weather and rainfall after application. Most soils are ideal storehouses for nutrients like phosphorus and potassium, particularly in conservation-tillage fields. Using fertilizer efficiency products like Avail, a phosphorus fertilizer enhancer, and NutriSphere-N, a nitrogen fertilizer manager, can help soil retain applied nutrients.

6 Reasons To Soil Sample In The Fall

  1. Taking soil samples in the fall allows more time to follow through with recommendations. For instance, agricultural lime takes about 6 months to decompose and react with the soil, so it needs to be applied in the fall.
  2. The turnaround time for soil test results usually is faster in the fall, generally within a week.
  3. A fall "snapshot" shows the nutrients available or unavailable to the crop for its final yield.
  4. If you sample soil types in each field ahead of harvest, you also can scout the finishing crop for signs of nutrient deficiencies, insect damage or disease.
  5. Getting fresh test results this fall gives you time to perfect your fall and spring fertility program. With fluctuating input prices, this could prevent unnecessary spending on fertilizer and avoid nutrient-related yield losses next year.
  6. Gaining an accurate fertility analysis can refine next year's seed choices, especially on hybrids.

If you'd like more information about the value of fall fertilization and soil testing, check out the following reports:
AgriEnergy Resources
International Plant Nutrition Institute