Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Importance of Soil Testing

Before you run out to buy lawn or garden fertilizer this year, (or your lawn service arrives) be certain you are aware of the regulations regarding applying phosphorous to any area of your yard. Last summer the Massachusetts legislature followed other states in requiring that no phosphorous can be applied to an area unless there is a soil test proving the area is deficient in phosphorous. The test must be done by the UMass soil testing lab or one using UMass approved procedures. Home test kits are not valid for this purpose. Regular soil tests are an easy and inexpensive (compared with fertilizing) way to know what your lawn and garden really needs.

Soil in this area is seldom low in phosphorous so chances are you do not need it. The reason for the law is that phosphorous runoff is a major cause of pollution of streams, rivers, lakes and the ocean. Just because your property doesn’t overlook water doesn’t mean that it is not a problem. Nutrient runoff leads to algae blooms, dead areas in the ocean, lakes and ponds, and an increase in ozone caused by the increase nitrogen oxides in the air. Save money and leave the nitrogen fertilizer in the stores. An easy-to-understand fact sheet is available at

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