Why have your soil tested?
Soil testing takes the guesswork out of maintaining the soil in optimum condition for plant growth and development. Different plants have different soil pH and nutrient requirements. Testing is inexpensive when compared to investments in your plants, amendments, time and efforts.
A soil test will assess the present levels of major plant nutrients, such as soil pH, and micronutrients. Recommendations will include the amounts of limestone and fertilizer, if necessary, to meet the requirements of the specific plant or crop being grown.
Who can benefit from soil testing?
Small Fruit Growers
Lawn Care Companies
When/how often should I test my soil?
Samples can be collected any time of year that the ground is not frozen. Many people collect their samples for testing in the spring right before planting, but fall is an optimal time especially if a soil pH problem is suspected. Amendments such as limestone or sulfur can be added in the fall as can slow release, natural organic sources of phosphorus and potassium. This allows sufficient time for reactions to occur in the soil so the pH and fertility should be at or close to the target levels by spring. A soil test should be performed about every three years to monitor soil pH and fertility levels. However, if a large correction in soil pH or fertility is called for by the initial soil test, it is a good idea to retest one year after amendments or fertilizer additions to evaluate if the situation has been corrected.
How do I send a sample?
Decide which one lawn or garden area you would like to test.
Use a spade or a trowel and a clean plastic pail to collect several random soil samples from the lawn or garden area. Do not include roots, thatch, or other plant materials in the sample. Mix the sub-samples together. If the soil is wet, spread it on paper and allow to air dry overnight before filling the sample bag. Do not use artificial heat (i.e. radiator, oven, microwave, hair dryer, etc.) to force-dry the sample.
Place roughly 2 cups of the well-mixed soil inside of the soil testing bag(s) (provided from the extension office) or use a resealable plastic bag to bring it in to the extension office. When you bring in your soil samples, we will have a few questions to ask you about your soil, such as what you are growing or planning on growing, how the soil drainage is in that area, and if it is located in the sun or shade. If you are testing farmland, some additional information may be needed.
Soil tests are one of the only things we do charge for at our office - they are $7.00 each.
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