Why test my soil?

Testing your soil can help you make good decisions. A fertility test can help you figure out how to apply the right amount of fertilizer to maximize yield and minimize environmental impacts. A soil health assessment can help you track the well-being of your soil over a longer time scale, and can help guide management decisions. Testing your soil for heavy metals can help you make sure that the soil is safe for kids to play in. The OSU Soil Health Laboratory offers many different packages and individual soil tests. Let us know how we can help you!

How to take a Soil Sample

In order to use the OSU Extension publications to interpret your soil test results it is important to read through the publication that is relevant to your cropping system before taking soil samples.

Because soil can be so variable, a soil sample should be submitted from each management area. Each sample should always be a composite sample of 5-20 subsamples from that management area. A management area is an area of land that is consistent in landform (valley bottom, hillslope, etc) and past management practices.

If you are going to have your sample analyzed for nitrate, ammonium, or any microbial parameter, it is best to keep the sample cool and get it to the lab as quickly as possible.

Check with OSU Extension publications or other reputable sources of information to determine the best time of year to sample your soil. In many cases this will be early spring, but this is not the case for every situation.

 

More details are available in this OSU Extension publication:

A Guide to Collecting Soil Samples for Farms and Gardens

Soil testing Packages

Analysis  package Who should choose this package? Price per sample - standard timeline Price per sample - RUSH timeline (2 business days - check for availability) Minimum preferred mass of sample to submit (dry basis)
Western OR basic package (pH, lime req, NH4-N, NO3-N, Bray P, K, Mg, Ca, OM) Customers located west of the Cascade Range looking for the basic macro nutrients $52.00 $153.50 100 g
Western OR advanced package (WOR basic + Mn, Cu, Zn, Fe, and B) Customers located west of the Cascade Range looking for a more comprehensive nutrient analysis $64.00 $216.50 100 g
Eastern OR basic package (pH, EC, NH4-N, NO3-N, Olsen P, K, Ca, Mg, OM) Customers located east of the Cascade Range looking for the basic macro nutrients $53.00 $155.00 100 g

 

Eastern OR advanced package (EOR basic + Mn, Cu, Zn, Fe, and B) Customers located east of the Cascade Range looking for a more comprehensive nutrient analysis $65.00 $218.00 100 g
Soil Health Assessment (pH, EC, OM, C, N, NO3-N, P, K, Mg, Ca, texture, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, active carbon, wet aggregate stability, respiration, AWHC, moisture) Customers managing larger areas of land (larger than a home garden) who would like to track the health of their soil over time and are considering management changes $133.50 $288.00 500 g
Soil Physical Assessment (Texture, wet aggregate stability, available water holding capacity, moisture) Customers looking to understand the physcial parameters of their soil $47.50 $81.50 400 g

All listed components of packages are also available individually. Other soil analyses are also available. Please contact the lab for details.