What is Soil Test?
A soil test is the analysis of a soil sample to determine nutrient and contaminated content, composition, and other characteristics such as the acidity or pHlevel. A soil test can determine fertility, or the expected growth potential of the soil which indicates nutrient deficiencies, potential toxicities from excessive fertility and inhibitions from the presence of non-essential trace minerals. The test is used to mimic the function of roots to assimilate minerals.
A soil test is a process by which elements (phosphorus, potassium, Calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulphur, manganese, copper and zinc) arechemically 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 that is recommended.
Why do you need a Soil Test?
Encourages plant growth by providing the best lime and fertilizer recommendations. When growers guess about the need for lime or fertilizers, too little or too much is likely to be applied. By using a soil test report, the grower does not need to guess.
Time it Right
Take a Soil sample a few months before starting any new landscaping. If the soil test report recommends lime, you will have enough time to apply it and have it adjust the soil pH before you plant. However, mid-August through mid-September is an ideal time to take samples for cool-season grasses, such as fescue, bluegrass, and ryegrass. By sampling at this time, you can be ready to apply lime in the fall. For areas recently limed or fertilized, delay sampling at least six to eight weeks.
Use Clean sampling equipment
Use a soil probe, spade, hand garden trowel, or shovel to collect samples. Do not use brass, bronze, or galvanized tools because they will contaminate samples with copper and/or zinc. Mix samples in a clean, plastic bucket. If the bucket has been used to hold fertilizer or other chemicals, wash it thoroughly before using it for soil samples.