Testing your soil can save you money and help you make better land management decisions!
A careful accounting of the nutrients your soil is able to provide your crops will allow you to apply just the right amount of fertilizer to maximize yield and minimize environmental and financial losses.
In order to make sure the lab that you choose for your testing has the ability to provide the results you want, we recommend checking out the following new Extension publication, Analytical Laboratories Serving Oregon; EM 8677 https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/em8677
The texture of your soil, that is, the relative portion of sand, silt, and clay size particles that make up your soil, has a huge impact on many inherent soil properties. It will effect the nutrients held at the mineral surface, the amount of water your soil can hold, and the susceptibility to compaction. Each of these factors can be important for land management decisions such as the frequency and duration of irrigation, or the tillage managment system best suited for your land.
We have many other analyses that are metrics for those focused on long term soil sustainability. Wet aggregrate stability, total organic matter, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, and microbial respiration work toward characterizing the living spaces, nutrient cycling functions, and feed sources available for the microbial community. Practices such as increased organic matter inputs, reduced tillage, and cover crops can improve the soil's ability to provide nutrients, resist erosion, and provide vital ecosystem services for years to come.
More instructions on how to take a soil sample are available in the section on this website "how to take a soil sample." For video instructions on sampling procedure, compiled with funding from the Western SARE program,
please visit: http://westernsoil.nmsu.edu/soil-testing.html