Published Dec 2, 2015

The Haney Soil Test and Nutrient Turnover

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


Farmers today can be bombarded with soil test results, but without proper context or interpretation, a plan to act on these results is difficult to decide upon. The Haney Test takes a novel approach to determine fertilizer recommendations while considering soil microbial activity and carbon and nitrogen concentration. Soil microbial ecologist Sarah Hargreaves will address how soil microbial activity translates into nutrient turnover and what this means for a farmer. Farmer Paul Ackley will explain how he’s been using the Haney Test results to reduce his fertilizer rates and maintain crop yields.

Sarah Hargreaves is a soil microbial ecologist specializing in microbial communities in agricultural ecosystems. Sarah’s dissertation research in Iowa looked at microbes’ response to annual and perennial crops, including seasonal differences in nutrient cycling and microbial communities in the rhizosphere. Sarah now fosters microbial life on her new farm, Three Ridges Ecological Farm, where she grows diversified perennial crops and raises pastured livestock with her husband, Drake Larsen, in southwest Ontario, Canada.

Paul Ackley and his wife Nancy run an integrated farm near Bedford, Iowa, raising corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle and hair sheep. Their diversified rotation, cover crop mixes, and grazing has allowed them to reduce phosphorous and potassium applications and herbicide use.