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Frequently Asked Questions About Soil Testing

Frequently Asked Questions About Soil Testing

By Larry A. Sagers | Posted - Oct. 16, 2010 at 7:06 a.m.



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1. I have general questions about soil testing: Why should I soil test? When do I sample? How often do I soil test? How do I take a soil sample? Utah State University Extension has answers to these questions (click here).

2. How do I take a soil sample for my Garden? My Lawn? My Field Crops?

• Garden - In essence, take 5-20 random samples throughout your garden. The number depends on the size of your garden. Samples should be 12 inches deep. You may use a shovel or a soil probe (which may be available from your County Agent). Place the samples in a plastic bucket, mix well, and subsample 2 cups of soil for us to test.

• Lawn - In essence, take 5-20 random samples throughout your lawn. The number depends on the size of your lawn. Samples should be 6 inches deep. You may use a shovel or a soil probe (which may be available from your County Agent). Place the samples in a plastic bucket, mix well, and subsample 2 cups of soil for us to test.

• Field Crops - In essence, take 10-20 random samples throughout your field. The number depends on the size of your field. A "field" should be uniform in soil type and cropping history. Samples should be 12 inches deep. You may use a shovel or a soil probe (which may be available from your County Agent). Place the samples in a plastic bucket, mix well, and subsample 2 cups of soil for us to test.

3. What kind of container do I use for my Soil Sample? My Irrigation Water Sample? My Feed Sample? My Manure Sample? • Soil - reclosable sandwich bag - or one of our soil boxes and bags from a County Extension Office or nursery/homecenter. • Feed - reclosable sandwich bag • Manure - reclosable sandwich bag • Plant - reclosable sandwich bag • Irrigation/Livestock Water - water bottle

4. How much sample is needed for a Soil Test? An Irrigation Water Test? A Feed Test? • Soil - 2 cups (this will fill one of our soil boxes completely). • Feed - a reclosable sandwich bag full • Manure - a reclosable sandwich bag full • Irrigation/Livestock Water - a 10-20 oz bottle. • Plant - call the lab

5. How do I send in my sample? • You can send in your sample via the US Mail, UPS, FedEX, etc. • You can hand deliver your sample to the lab. We are located in the basement of the Ag Science Bldg - room 166. 6. Where can obtain the necessary forms to send in with my samples? • Forms are available on our website - click on forms on the left side, then click on the desired form (soil, feed, etc.) • Forms (and mailing boxes) are also available from your County Agent and possibly your local nursery / home center.

7. How can I pay for my analysis? USUAL accepts checks, money orders, VISA, MASTERCARD, and DISCOVER. We will accept PO#'s from some businesses and government institutions. Payment is expected at sample submission. Failure to provide payment at sample submission will result in delay in sample processing.

8. How long will it take to get results? • Most sample results are available in 5-10 working days. • NIR feed analysis results are done by the next afternoon about 4pm. • Large quantities of samples and some sample analysis take longer. Please contact the lab for information. • Rush jobs will be considered for an additional fee. Please contact the lab for information.

9. What is a County Agent and how do I find my County Agent to help me? A County Agent is an employee of Utah State University and the federal government. They are experts in horticulture, agriculture, and /or livestock. There is typically one or two agents assigned to each county. You can find your County Agent's address and phone number with Utah State University Extension.

10. I haven't found what I need tested on your website. Where can I get help? Try our list under "About Us" entitled: What we don't do (and who does). If you can't find what you're looking for, you can contact us, and we'll see if we can help you.

For information on soil testing, go to http://www.usual.usu.edu/

Related Links

Larry A. Sagers

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