How To Take A Soil Sample

The soil test takes the guess work out of lime and fertilizer applications.  It is an excellent measure of soil fertility. Soil testing is a very inexpensive way of maintaining good plant health.  The report supplies the necessary information for environmental appropriate recommendations.

The soil sample must be representative of your lawn or garden area, pasture, field crops, forages, etc.  Here are some tips on improving the accuracy of your soil tests:

  • Samples can be taken with a soil probe, pipe, auger, spade or hand trowel. (See diagram below)
  • Remove the top debris, residue or turf thatch from the soil.
  • Sample gardens, trees, shrubs, flower beds, hay fields, forages and field crops 6 – 8 inches deep. Sample 3 – 4 inches deep for lawn and grass pasture fields.
  • Randomly zigzag over the area collecting 10 – 15 cores or slices in a clean plastic bucket.
  • Do not include cores from any unusual locations such as manure areas, old fence rows, fertilizer or lime spill areas, etc.
  • Each core or slice should be taken at the same depth and volume at each site.
  • Break up lumps and thoroughly mix the composite sample.
  • Place 2 measuring cups of soil in the plastic bag.
  • The soil can be sent either wet or dry.
  • Be sure to label the bag with a sample description.
  • Complete the Sample Information Sheet.
  • Return the soil sample(s) to the above location.

Taking a soil sample