University of KentuckyCollege of Agriculture
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Soil: Tests: Sample Type

See: Soils | Animal Waste | Greenhouse Media | Water | Mine Spoils
See also: Forms | Costs

Soils

Soils are analyzed to diagnose potential nutrient deficiencies that could occur in crops. Soils are collected at a depth of 6 to 8 inches for conventionally tilled fields and 3 to 4 inches for no-till and pasture land. A soil probe should be used for best results. Ten to 12 samples are taken from a field or area to be managed separately. Samples are combined in a clean plastic container, crumbled, and thoroughly mixed. One to 2 cupfuls of the soil mixture is then placed in a soil sample bag or box. A name is placed on the sample container for identification. The sample is taken to a UK county extension office. An information form is required to be submitted with the sample. Forms can also be downloaded here. Samples are sent to either the Lexington or Princeton lab via U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or hand delivered. All samples should be packed well so they are protected from rough handling. The UK extension publication AGR-16: Taking Soil Test Samples provides more details on soil sampling.

Animal Waste

Animal wastes are tested to determine nutrient contents to allow for proper land application. For solid animal waste samples, such as chicken litter, the sample should be placed in a 1 gallon ziploc bag. For liquid waste samples, such as from lagoons, samples should be placed in one liter plastic bottles (available from a UK county extension office). County extension offices can order plastic bottles from the Lexington Lab. As with soils, a representative sample needs be taken. Ten to 12 samples are taken from the area requiring testing and placed in a clean plastic bucket. After mixing the sample thoroughly, a subsample is placed in the proper container. The containers should be filled one-half to three-fourths full. A name is placed on the sample container for identification. The sample is cooled by placing the container in ice after sampling. The sample should be promptly taken to a UK county extension office. An information form is required to be submitted with the sample. The form can be downloaded here. Samples are sent to the Lexington Lab via U.S. Postal Service, or UPS, or hand delivered. All samples should be packed well so they are protected from rough handling. The UK extension publication ID-123: Livestock Waste Sampling and Testing provides more details on animal waste sampling.

Greenhouse Media

Media used to grow various horticultural plants in greenhouse or container nursery conditions are tested for nutrient content to ensure proper plant growth. For media already in use, 6 to 8 samples should be collected in the area of interest at a depth of the whole root zone. Just collecting sample from the surface is not appropriate. The samples are placed in a clean plastic container and thoroughly mixed. After mixing, one to two cupfuls of the sample is placed in a soil sample bag or box (order these). For soilless media intended for use, a pint of the media can be directly placed in a soil sample bag or box (order these). For media intended for use containing soil, the media should be spread out over a dry surface and allowed to air dry before placing in a soil sample bag or box (order these). An information form is required to be submitted with the sample. Soil sample bags are available at the UK county extension office. Forms can also be downloaded here. Samples are sent to the Lexington Lab via U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or hand delivered. All samples should be packed well so they are protected from rough handling. The back of the information form also contains information on sampling greenhouse media.

Water

Water used for irrigation and nutrient solutions are analyzed for nutrient content to ensure adequate plant growth. Tests are not conducted for human or animal drinking water suitability. The Kentucky Department of Public Health can be contacted for this service (click here). Water samples are placed in 50 mL plastic bottles obtained from a UK county extension office. County extension offices can order plastic bottles from the Lexington Lab. Sample bottles should not be opened until sampling time. For source water samples, the tap is open and water allowed to run five minutes before sampling. The opened sample bottle is placed under the stream of water until the bottle is filled. Some water is poured out to allow one-half inch of air space. For nutrient solutions in float beds, the capped sample bottle should be placed in the solution to a depth of three inches above the top of the bottle. The cap of the bottle is open when submerged to allow the bottle to be filled. Some solution is poured out to leave one-half inch of air space. For overhead irrigation systems, the procedure outlined for source water should be used for sampling. The sample should be taken far enough from fertilizer injection to ensure complete mixing of the nutrients in the solution before the sample is taken. The sample should be promptly taken to a UK county extension office. An information form is required to be submitted with the sample. The form can be downloaded here. Samples are sent to the Lexington Lab via U.S. Postal Service, UPS, or hand delivered. All samples should be packed well so they are protected from rough handling. The back of the information form also contains detailed information on water sampling.

Mine Spoils

Mine spoils are tested to determine fertilizer requirements for land reclamation and potential acidity due to oxidation of sulfide minerals. Mine spoil samples are collected and submitted to the Lexington Lab in a manner similar to soils.