The quieter winter months, when autumn sowing season is over, is the perfect time to take samples to test your soil health to make sure the baseline pH levels and nutrients are correct for optimum growth and productivity next spring.
A laboratory such as NRM (http://www.nrm.uk.com/services.php?service=soil-health) will test everything from soil pH, available phosphorus, potassium and magnesium as a standard test as well as trace elements, organic matter and CO2 for more in-depth analysis . You’ll have time to add lime to lift the pH if needed, or add potash or phosphate to correct nutrient levels
Remember grassland soils should be sampled at a depth of 7-8cm, arable soils should be sampled at around 15cm and a representative sample of the field should be taken, avoiding gateways, drinking troughs and headlands. Consider sampling areas that consistently yield poorly or have very different cropping history separately, for more accurate results.
Avoid sampling straight after fertiliser applications and aim to re-sample fields every 2-4 years, while allowing areas that have recently received lime at least 2 years before re-testing.