River Talk: Non-Profit Tests Soil to Prevent Runoff

By Brett Martin | bmartin@kolr10.com

Published 07/01 2014 05:58AM

Updated 07/01 2014 07:57AM

OZARK, Mo. – When it comes to helping preserve the waterways in the Ozarks, scientist start with the soil on the ground, whether in your front yard or along the river bank. 

KOLR10’s Brett Martin spoke with the soil scientist from the James River Basin Partnership to learn more about the testing.

"We focus on trying to reduce the amount of nutrients that go into our waterways and one of the ways that we can focus on that is taking soil samples before you fertilize. If we over fertilize then that becomes a run off and what the run off does is eventually get into our waterways."

Melissa Bettes shows KOLR10 the process for testing the amount of fertilizer you should be using on your yard.

"I’d go ahead and start at the far point and start measuring so that I'd be able to determine the square footage. And then with that, I take the auger or a little spade and take a soil sample. I take core samples throughout the whole yard, mix it all together and send it to the lab. Once I get the lab results back, I can determine how much MPK and which that is nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium."

"Once that ends up in the water way, you mentioned fish kills, it can also increase vegetation growth, right?"

"If you are going to feed your soil, your vegetation on the ground, it also feeds the vegetation in your waterways and so then you deplete the oxygen for your fishes so that basically the reason why it causes that fish kill."

Bettes says not only is the testing free for people living in the river basin, it saves them money in the end.

"It reduces the amount of fertilizer that they think they need to put on. Once we take the soil sample, I write a four year nutrient management plan for them, and then with that plan they realize that they have been over fertilizing so it actually saves them money in the long run as well."

Bettes says its hard to estimate how much fertilizer should be used because of the different size yards, the topography and nutrients are already in the soil.

To apply for a free testing, you can find more information at JamesRiverBasin.com

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