Every fall and spring we send off soil samples from across our fields for analysis at our local land grant university – a service most offer at little cost. The simple process allows us to determine what minerals our field is lacking or are in abundance and gives us insight as to what we need to amend into the soil prior to planting.
In the fall we test to determine which of the slower-releasing minerals we need to add, or whether we need to adjust soil pH. In the spring nitrogen-heavy amendments reign king as the precious nutrient flushes out of the ground each winter during heavy rains. Keeping soil healthy is key and a soil test can provide the information necessary for maintaining optimal fertility each year.
For those growing for their first time on a piece of land, it is especially important to know what is and isn’t present in your soils. Land previously used for agricultural or industrial purposes can have residual pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals that will inhibit growth or make your material flat-out useless. Hemp is a bio accumulator and works great to remediate certain toxins, but it also means they will be present in the plant. Herbicides sprayed on fields where cattle have foraged often remain for years and have detrimental effects on plant growth - e.g. the plant above.
Play it safe, test your soil. Local universities and their extension offices are a great place to start.
You can find more information from Oregon State Extension athttps://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/techniques/soil-testing-amendments