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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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Dark brown soil in a small white box.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Soil Testing, Vegetable Gardens September 3, 2019

You’ve spent all summer planting and maintaining your garden or mowing your lawn and are ready for a break. But before you put your landscape to bed for a long winter’s nap, consider applying lime.

Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Soil Testing January 4, 2019

The Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Lab has new equipment that allows it to offer an expanded range of services to clients.

MSU Extension agent Sandy Havard wears a maroon shirt and holds an Extension soil sample box.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Soil Testing, Trees, Turfgrass and Lawn Management, Vegetable Gardens October 2, 2018

If your lawn, landscape, or garden look a little sickly, it might be time for a soil health checkup. (Photo by Jonathan Parrish/Cindy Callahan)

Ann Rice remains grounded after more than three decades in the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory. Retirement will allow more time for her to spend in the garden on her family farm in Oktibbeha County, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Linda Breazeale)
Filed Under: Soil Testing June 27, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When Ann Rice leaves the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory on June 30, she will conclude an educational 35-year career filled with unusual requests and interesting discoveries, some of which were about herself.

"When I didn’t have confidence in myself, others did," Rice said. "I never thought I could be a leader, but sometimes, I have had to step up and take the lead, like in the organic matter and plant tissue divisions."

Filed Under: Soils, Soil Testing May 25, 2017

New manager of operations Keri Jones recently joined the Mississippi State University Extension Service Soil Testing Laboratory, and she's ready to enhance the unit's efficiency."

"My primary goal is to provide accurate soil analysis in a timely manner," said Jones, an Extension associate who has worked in the MSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences since 2016. "I hope to improve the overall efficiency of the lab as well as update soil nutrient application recommendations."


How to Take a Soil Sample - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

How to Take a Soil Sample

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 1:45pm
Interpreting Soil Test Results - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

Interpreting Soil Test Results

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 - 1:30pm

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Portrait of Dr. Keri Denley Jones
Laboratory Coordinator
Soil Testing Lab