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How should a soil sample(s) be taken?

 Drawing of tools needed

For homeowners to test lawn or garden soils for fertility needs:

 

  1. Use a spade or trowel to remove a slice of soil 6 inches deep, or use a soil probe to obtain 6 inch cores.
  2. Obtain up to 15-20 similar sections or cores from other random places in your garden or lawn. Do not take samples where fertilizer has been spilled or manure has been piled. Do not include debris such as leaves, sticks, or large stones in your sample.
  3. Put these samples in a plastic pail.
  4. Mix soil thoroughly in the pail.
  5. Remove about one pint of the well-mixed soil and dry it at room temperature.
  6. Place the dried soil in a container and deliver the sample to your local Extension office. Fill out the submission form found there. The results will be available a few days after they arrive at the laboratory at Mississippi State

Farmers, please see these Extension Publications:

IS346 "Soil Testing for the Farmer" and P1224 "Plant Analysis Sampling Instructions".

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Publications

News

Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing September 9, 2014

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Row crop producers interested in quality soil should sample fields after harvest and apply recommended lime in the fall.

Larry Oldham, a soil fertility specialist and professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said lime is an important component of soil fertility management because it sets the environment in which plants live and grow.

Mississippi State University Extension Service agronomy specialist Keith Crouse sorts through routine samples on April 10, 2013, in the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab, where every day is Earth Day, not just April 22. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing April 18, 2013

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Some people celebrate Earth Day with a trip on April 22 to the city park, but soil scientists get daily opportunities to see the importance of protecting the environment.

Mississippi State University Extension Service agronomy specialist Keith Crouse said an inexpensive soil test is one of the easiest ways to be a good steward of the earth and enjoy all the land has to offer. As coordinator of the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab, Crouse has seen test results prevent growers from applying unnecessary fertilizers.

Clarissa Balbalian receives a box of soil samples sent to the MSU Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab for evaulation. A proposed management strategy accompanies each set of test results. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
Filed Under: Agriculture, Soil Health, Plant Diseases, Soil Testing December 6, 2012

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Two soil tests conducted routinely help Mississippi producers ensure the productivity of their farmland.

Soil tests in the fall to determine fertility levels and nematode tests in the spring to detect harmful pests help producers improve soil quality before spring tillage and planting begin.

Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Soil Testing June 21, 2012

By Kaitlyn Byrne
MSU Ag Communications

MISSISSIPPI STATE — For greatest success, gardeners should start by improving the quality of the soil.

Larry Oldham, a soils specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said soil-related challenges vary across Mississippi.

Filed Under: Soil Testing June 10, 2004

By Bonnie Coblentz

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soil sampling provides a classic example of how a "one size fits all" approach to farming often is not a good idea.

Soil sampling involves taking small amounts of soil from representative areas of a garden or field and chemically processing it. The process determines the crop nutrient status of the soil, and provides a basis for recommendations on improving its production capability.

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