How can a soil sample help me?

In much the same way a seed laboratory can determine purity, germination and other data about seed, a soil lab can provide you with important information about your soil conditions.

Based on findings in your sample a soil laboratory will make recommendations for crop rotations, soil handling and chemical application. They recommend additives that will address the excesses or deficiencies in your soil. You can then make agronomic and fertilizer choices based on those recommendations

Take Care of your soil

Why does my soil condition matter?

Your soil might be fine for your goals just the way it is. Then again, it might have too many or too little basic elements and nutrients.

What can a lab tell me about my soil?

When you send your sample to the lab you will request a Test ‘profile’ with your submission. Most labs have a submission form of some kind that you send with the sample. Each lab is slightly different, but a ‘complete’ soil test will analyze your soil for the following:

pH, Salts, Sodium, CEC, Excess Lime, Organic Matter, Ammonium-N, Nitrate-N, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfate-S, Zinc, Iron, Lime Requirement

When to test

When should I get a soil sample?

You might consider sending a sample of your soil to a laboratory if:

  • You plan to spend time and money on fertilizer
  • You know your soil is depleted of nutrients
  • You know your soil has high salt or alkali
  • You see browning or yellowing in your plants
  • You see white crust on the ground surface
  • You are unfamiliar with your soil history
  • It has been more than 3 years since the soil was worked
  • The same crop has been on the plot for more than three years
Reading your report

What does a soil report look like?

The image at right is an actual soil report for one of our customers. Notice the test data column and the recommendations based on the lab results.


How to Collect a Soil Sample

This in-depth article from Purdue Extension offers step-by-step instructions on how to collect a soil sample for testing.

Cornell University has excellent information on collecting soil samples here: Warren County Extension – How To Take A Soil Sample

Download PDF
Soil laboratories

What Laboratory Should I use?

There are excellent, proven laboratories all over the country. A simple google search will find one in your area.

We have had great luck with Stukenholtz Laboratory in Twin Falls, ID. We have used them for many decades. We trust them to give us accurate information, and they make recommendations based on the test results. They perform soil and plant tissue tests and offer a number of great services.

**While we recommend Stukenholtz, we are not affiliated in any way.