Extensions instructs landowners in soil testing

Published 11:19 am Thursday, March 16, 2023

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Alabama Extension provides resources and training to farmers, gardeners, and homeowners on soil testing, to gauge their land’s nutrient and lime levels for crops and plants.

Throughout Alabama, local Extension offices help landowners learn to take soil samples which can be submitted to the Auburn University Soil, Forage, and Water Testing Laboratory for analysis. The laboratory offers routine soil analysis and also more advanced testing.

According to Tuskegee Extension Agent Carnell McAlpine, landowners can take soil samples on their own with a few basic supplies and in a few easy steps.

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“A composite sample is a collection of 15 to 20 uniform cores or slices of soil taken from random spots in a garden, lawn, or shrub bed,” McAlpine said. “For an accurate test, place the samples from a given area into a clean bucket. Then, mix this soil well and place about one pint of the mixture into a soil sample box.”

Soil sample boxes, information sheets, and other supplies for soil testing are available from local county Extension offices, McAlpine explained.

“When mailing your samples, enclose the filled soil boxes, the information sheet, and a check or money order to cover service charges in a cardboard shipping box,” he said. “Tie the box securely and prepay by parcel post.”

Supplies needed to conduct soil sampling include a spoon, shovel, hand trowel, clean bucket, soil sample box, information sheet, and shipping box.

For a cost of $10 per sample routine soil analysis samples are tested for pH, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. A report detailing soil values, ratings, and fertilizer recommendations are sent to the landowner by email and/or regular mail within one to two days after samples are received.

Samples and payment should be mailed to the Soil, Forage, and Water Testing Laboratory at 961 S. Donahue Drive, Auburn, Alabama, 36849.

For more information, visit the laboratory website at aaes.auburn.edu/soil-forage-water-testing-lab/.