Soil Testing

by Kaylee Lowery

What is soil testing?

  • The purpose of soil testing is to determine the need for lime, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and other nutrients.
  • Fall planting soil samples should be taken in the spring, and spring plants should be taken in the fall.

Why you should perform soil testing

  • You should do soil testing because you should know whether your plants need lime, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or other nutrients.

The information soil testing gives you

  • It tells you how much nutrients your soil has and how much it will need, and the better the nutrients, the better the plants.

the materials you need to do a soil sample

  • soil sampling probe
  • nursery spade or shovel
  • soil sampling carton
  • bucket
  • permanent marker

the procedure to taking a soil sample

  1. get a soil sample information sheet from your local extension agency
  2. clean all of your tools and buckets
  3. take one sample from each uniform area
  4. take 10-15 small cores or slices from the large uniform area
  5. take core or slices about 4 inches deep for lawns (about 6 inches deep for fields)
  6. mix the core or slices together in a clean bucket and take a sample of about one pint to represent the area sampled
  7. complete the sample information sheet and carton information
  8. draw a map and keep a record of where you sampled and sample numbers
  9. include the information sheet with carton of soil "sample" and mail or take appropriate testing laboratory
  10. avoid unusual areas unless you want to get a sample of the unusual area only so that it can be treated (such as dead or yellow spots in lawns or fields)
  11. place soil samples in the box, which you can obtain from the county extension office along with soil sample information sheet, send the box and information to agronomic division soil test lab in Raleigh for a free soil test.
  • when you get the results back, add the needed nutrients to your soil.

what to do about unusual spots in your yard

  • Do not take soil tests in wet spots, feeding areas, burn piles, or other unusual spots in your yard.

where you send your soil test for analyzing

  • send your soil samples to Raleigh

how much does it cost?

  • its free

how long will it take to get soil results from Raleigh

  • it should take two weeks