WESLACO — Growers in the Lower Rio Grande Valley can save money while helping the environment by taking advantage of a free soil testing campaign, according to Ashley Gregory, a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service assistant for water programs in Weslaco.
“Agricultural producers from Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties are encouraged to submit soil samples for a free analysis to help them determine the amount of nutrients in their soils,” Gregory said.
Proper nutrient amounts and placement help in the reduction of nonpoint source pollution into the Arroyo Colorado and the Lower Laguna Madre, both important waterways in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, she said.
“By knowing how much fertilizer is already in the soil, many growers have been able to cut down on the fertilizer they apply. That can amount to a huge cost savings, especially with rising fertilizer prices,” she said.
The soil testing campaign began Oct. 1 and will continue through Feb. 28. It is made possible by funding from a Clean Water Act grant provided the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It is administered through the Texas Water Resources Institute and the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership.
The partnership consists of 700 people, representing federal, state and private organizations working to improve watershed health, integrate management and seek out watershed project funding.
Soil sample forms and sample bags can be picked up at AgriLife Extension offices in Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties, or at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 2401 E. Highway 83 in Weslaco.
Conducted every year since 2001, the soil testing program has been very successful in helping growers know exactly how much residual fertilizer is already in the ground, Gregory said. More than 5,000 soil samples have been collected since the program started.
“Growers can return their soil samples to any of our offices for shipping to the Texas A&M Soil Testing Laboratory in College Station. The analysis is free and results are mailed directly to the grower,” she said.
For more information about the Arroyo Colorado watershed, visit http://arroyocolorado.org. For more information about the soil testing program, contact Gregory at 956-968-5581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.