A soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, boron, sulfur, manganese, copper, iron and zinc) are chemically removed from the soil and measured for their “plant available” content within the sample. The quantity of available nutrients in the sample determines the amount of fertilizer or other soil amendment that is recommended. A soil test also measures soil pH, organic matter and cation exchange capacity (CEC). These analyses indicate whether lime is needed and, if so, how much to apply.
There are many reasons to have your soil tested.
- It encourages plant growth by providing the best lime, fertilizer, or other soil amendment recommendations. When producers guess about the need for lime or fertilizers, it is likely that inadequate or excessive amounts will be applied.
- It diagnoses whether there is an adequate amount of certain nutrients.
- Soil testing promotes environmental quality.
- When gardeners apply only as much fertilizer as is necessary, nutrient runoff into surface or ground water is minimized and natural resources are protected.
- It saves money that might otherwise be spent on unneeded lime and fertilizer.
- Some homeowners routinely apply phosphorous to their lawns. In areas where soil phosphorous levels are high, a soil test could save homeowners money.
The Steuben County Soil and Water Conservation District does not perform soil sampling. However, there are several resources for producers and landowners who would like to have their soil analyzed for nutrient management, agricultural purposes and for lawns and gardens.
The Purdue Extension Office offers two documents to assist landowners with collecting soil Samples:
The following laboratories perform soil testing:
Producers can contact the following organizations for soil testing assistance:
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) has received a grant to offer Free Soil and Manure Sampling to producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB). Please contact Lindsey Bluhm at either firstname.lastname@example.org or (260) 210-2477 for more information.