Forage: Fertilization and Soil Health

Changing soil fertility can often be one of the largest single expenses on a livestock farm. The nutrients provided in fertilizer are important for adequate forage growth. Without the right pH or adequate nutrients, plant growth will be limited. Understanding which nutrients are needed and which type of fertilizer to use can affect the profitability of a farm. It is important to soil test to determine the pH and nutrient content of the soil. This information will help determine the best fertilizer strategy for each field on a farm.

Information and Resources

Link Pointer The Soil, Plant and Pest Center
This is your one stop service and education place! Our laboratories have served homeowners, farmers, nursery growers and researchers since 1949 providing information to assist in all areas of production; soil testing, forage and crop analysis, plant and pest diagnosis, informational sheets, and distance diagnostics.

Soil Health

Link Pointer What Does Soil Health Mean for Tennessee Farmers?
Soil health is one of the most popular and widely discussed terms among the agricultural community in recent years. The soil health concept has been around for decades, along with similar concepts such as soil tilth, soil fertility and soil quality. Farmers in Tennessee are recognizing the importance of soil management to their operations and are engaged in management practices that promote soil health.

Link Pointer Soil Testing
Growers who follow soil test recommendations can expect higher fertilizer efficiency, more balanced nutrient levels for crops and optimum benefits from their lime and fertilizer investments. Thus, soil testing should be the first step in planning a sound fertilization program. With a soil test, the guesswork of knowing how much lime and fertilizer to apply is eliminated.

Link Pointer Liming Acid Soils in Tennessee
Soil test results indicate that approximately 50 percent of the cropland in Tennessee is too acid for optimum crop production. Because of this, determining the need for lime should be the first step in developing a sound crop fertilization program.


Link Pointer Litter Land Application Management
This publication provides Tennessee poultry producers who do not have a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permit with a litter land application rate worksheet to set agronomic litter land application rates.

Link Pointer Fertilizers and Their Use
An understanding of soil chemical properties is important because of their effect on nutrient availability to plants. Also, these properties may usually be favorably altered with the use of lime and/or fertilizer materials.

Link Pointer Nitrogen Sources for Pasture and Hay
Nitrogen is one of the major nutrients required by forage grasses for proper growth and development. Yield and forage quality response to added nitrogen can be dramatic.

Link Pointer When Are Micronutrients Needed for Farm Fields?
This factsheet provides a listing of secondary and micronutrient soil tests available through the University of Tennessee Soil Testing Laboratory in Nashville. It summarizes all of the university’s secondary and micronutrient recommendations and guidelines based on current research.