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March 15, 2021 - The Scoop on Soil Sampling

Soil Testing FlyerThere is a sense that spring is arriving soon. Now is a good time to consider doing a soil sample for your home landscape or wildlife food plot.
Soil testing is important since it can provide critical information to determine what your nutrient needs are but will also give you other useful information such as soil pH and organic matter content. The test results will also outline recommendations to remedy any insufficiencies that may be found. These recommendations will allow you to apply fertilizers containing the needed nutrients in the correct amounts. Many times, gardeners simply apply a “balanced” fertilizer containing Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium (10-10-10 for example) but you may not need all of these nutrients in your garden. It is so important to only apply what is needed in the amount necessary to help reduce excess nutrient pollution of our local waterways.
To collect your sample, you will want to take soil from multiple locations in your garden/food plot to ensure it is a representative sample. Dig down 5-7 inches with a shovel or garden trowel and place that soil core into a bucket, along with all of your other representative cores, and mix them together. Put about 2 cups of the mixture into a sturdy plastic bag to be brought to our office for sampling and results are typically received within 10-14 days. Soil testing is recommended every 3 – 5 years to ensure you keep your landscape at its best! 
While soil samples may be appropriate for lawns in certain situations, it is best to consult with Extension Brown County Horticulture staff before submitting a sample. The reason most homeowners want a lawn soil analysis is because they are experiencing problems with their turf. In many instances, however, the problem may be due to insect damage, disease pathogens, soil compaction, shade or improper lawn maintenance practices – factors a soil test will not identify.
A lawn & garden soil test costs $22 and provides results for pH, Nitrate-Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Organic Matter, Soluble Salts, Cation Exchange Capacity, Calcium, Magnesium and fertilizer recommendations based on your result.  For more information on soil sampling and other Horticulture services provided, please click to visit our website or call 920-391-4615. 
Think spring!
Source: UW-Madison Division of Extension ( Publication: Sampling Lawn and Garden Soils for Analysis (A2166)