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More phosphorus available than soil tests report

The National Center for Water Quality Research at Heidelberg University is finding higher phosphorus levels in soil samples than what average soil tests report.

“On average, the soil test in the upper inch of soil is about 55 percent higher than the soil test that would be reported to a farmer for his nutrient management.”

Director Emeritus & founder Dave Baker tells Brownfield practices in place to control erosion including no-till and cover crops have resulted in increased levels of phosphorus in the upper levels of soil. He says that buildup of phosphorus is bettered measured with stratified soil tests compared to standard soil samples.  “In the long-term, you might be able to reduce [levels] through what’s called drawdown, simply applying less phosphorus than what crops are removing, and that will slowly drop the soil test levels.”

Baker says good soil health and improved water infiltration can also help to reduce phosphorus runoff and keep nutrients in crop fields.

AUDIO: Interview with Dave Baker during Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference

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