Soil Testing on Sport Turf- How, When, Why

Posted by Mark Wilton on

Soil testing on Sport Turf- How, When, Why? Also see my own How to Take Soil Samples on Site, at the base of the blog.

Soil testing on sports turf -how, when, why is a timely blog on soil testing especially in terms of macro and micro nutrients levels, within the soil reserves.

NRM are a laboratory who specialise in the soil testing and plant tissue analysis answer twelve questions, posted by our community. Some of our community questions were outside of their testing services, and have kindly been answered by Mark Wilton (MWTurfcare) who is better placed to provide answers.

What type of tests can Groundsman/Greenkeepers test for in regards to soil nutrition?

Macro and Micro soil nutrients plus heavy metals, soil textures, soil organic matter, soil biological activity.

When is the most appropriate time to carry out basic soil nutrient testing?

We do not have specific guidelines for sports turf samples, however see attached our guidelines for agricultural sample for general advice.

Sports Turf -soil nutrient testing is best done when nutrients are at the lowest levels, so January and February (Mark Wilton MWTurfcare)

What’s is the procedure for taking samples, how many, what depth, pattern etc? 

Please change to ‘Check for deficiencies or excessively high levels in both major and micro nutrients and consult with a specialist advisor.


How do Groundsman/Greenkeepers go about putting together a feeding plan based on the testing results?

For interpretation of the data to be used for specific feeding plans, I would advise using a specialist consultant (facts qualified sales rep).

testing cells

How can we be sure the test results are correct and consistent?

 We are UKAS accredited laboratory and have strict Quality control measures in place to ensure consistently accurate results.

Do different soil types hold nutrients in differing capacities and if so, does that effect testing frequencies? 

Different soil textures do have different abilities to hold nutrients. For example, sandy soils cannot hold onto potassium like a heavy clay soil can. Sampling frequently in these areas where there is a known nutrient deficiency can be increased.

How often is soil nutrient testing required?

Sport Turf-Every two years would be sufficient in most cases, especially in clay/natural soils. Sand based constructions every year. Mark Wilton (MWTurfcare)

If testing identifies low/high pH level is there any do and don’ts of altering? 

This would be something a specialist consultant (facts qualified rep) could help with.

Also see this blog we at TurfCareBlog did previously-

Why is it important to test your soil nutrient levels and how can low nutrients affect the quality of the pitch/green? 

Poor soil nutrient levels will result in a poor plant. This could mean discolouring, lack of tillers, poor rooting, increased weed competition. This could also result in soils more prone to poor soil structure and therefore an increased risk of poor drainage.

soil testings

Why are some nutrients more important to the grass plant and does that differ by sport?

 The chemical make-up of the soil and plant are very complex, surplus or excess quantities of certain nutrients can have an antagonistic effect on the availability of other nutrients, and therefore the growing crop. Measuring and management are key.

One of our readers have four areas that struggle to flourish, is there anything to look for in soil analysis testing that may highlight what the problem maybe? 

Check for deficiencies or excessively high levels in both major and micro nutrients. Again

How do these tests work?  Some Groundsman believe different companies are using different techniques and have concerns with accuracy?

As a UKAS accredited laboratory we are also part of a ring testing scheme. This is designed to make sure results between the different laboratories are consistent, and give our customers confidence in the results they receive.

Many thanks,

Response given by FACT qualified business developments manager Rory Geldard on behalf of NRM laboratories.

How to Take Soil Samples on Site- Groundsmen’s Guide

on site samples

Identify where your going to take samples from, in this image of a cricket square samples will be taken across the square in a W formation.Six samples or there about.

Do not send off the grass or thatch part of the sample, only the soil and samples depth of around 3 inches deep max. The instructions on the testing kit will confirm and super seed anything l say.

core removal tools

Example of a soil profile removal tool, but a apple corer could work.

testing samples

All the details of what you need to put on the bag or box provided will come with the testing pack and often your need to collect about 350 grams.

Soil testing on Sport Turf is really something very simple and cheap to look into and l cant recommend it enough.

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