Updated: Jan 30
Growing hemp is not a one size fits all for farms. Different soils have different nutrient profiles. Soil testing allows you to see in black and white what your land lacks so you can take the necessary steps to fix it. Here are some key reasons to get your soil tested.
The hemp plant naturally cleans the soil of heavy metals and toxins, which, while good for the earth, may not be so good for your post-harvest test results. Luckily, if your soil does turn out to be high in metals, you can treat the land to inactivate the contamination.
Hemp thrives in well-drained, loamy soil that is slightly acidic (between 6.0 and 7.5) and rich in organic matter. A soil test will determine the pH level so you can add nutrients to make your soil more alkaline or acidic depending on the results.
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and micronutrients are crucial to the hemp plant’s growth and survival. Knowing what your soil lacks will help you better evaluate your fertilization options through the growth cycle. In most cases, soil tests are taken in a grid format taking multiple samples. Most fields have a variety of nutrient levels scattered throughout. A custom amendment approach can be very beneficial.
If you hope to become certified organic within the next few years, it is essential to know if there are any lingering pesticides or herbicides. Residual chemicals could also lower germination rates and stunt hemp growth. These compounds could also show up in post-harvest test results due to hemps’ cleansing properties.
In addition to NPK, microorganisms are equally important for a thriving hemp field. A microbe count will help determine the overall soil health and if additional microbes are needed. Both microbes and mycorrhizae (fungi) are vital to soil health. Understanding their complex interactions requires research. We recommend finding specialists in your area for consultation.
Infestations of pests, diseases, and weeds may be due to nutrient deficiencies in the soil. Getting a complete soil profile will help you correct any imbalances to better manage infestations.
Annual soil tests will allow you to track soil health over time and see the effects of your farming practices. Yellowing hemp leaves, insect infestations, and mildew can be caused by a myriad of problems, but obtaining data takes the guessing out of the game.
One of the most revealing data sets, and often overlooked, is the plant uptake test. To do this test, take a soil sample near the plant, and compare it to a sample of the plant leaf. Comparing results will help you quickly know if there are uptake limitations preventing utilization of the soil nutrients. A qualified soil specialist can recommend corrective action that will significantly improve plant health throughout the crop cycle. Soil testing will save you time, money, and effort in the long run. Knowing your soil’s strengths and weaknesses will help you to assess the plants’ needs as it matures so you can get the right product at the right time.