A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH.
Image by Sandy Repp

A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH.

Soil Testing Services


Why Test Soil?

A soil test will tell you what nutrients are in your soil and what you may need to add (in the form of fertilizer) for successful crop growth. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (macronutrients) as will as micronutrients to grow. Deficiency or excess of these elements will impact the health and productivity of plants. In addition, the pH (acid/alkaline level) of your soil has an impact upon how much of your soil's nutrients your plants will be able to use. CCE-Schenectady's Agriculture and Horticulture Programs can provide or arrange several different tests for your soil, and can help you to interpret the results and choose an appropriate course of action if necessary.

pH Testing

A pH test measures the acid/alkaline level of your soil. In the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral; lower numbers indicate acid soil, while higher numbers indicate that the soil is alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH of 6.8. pH levels influence nutrient availability, with most nutrients being available to plants when the pH is in this range (6.8-7.0). If a soil is too alkaline or too acid, certain nutrients may be limited. To change soil pH to the desirable range, you will either add lime if the soil is too acid or sulfur if the soil is too alkaline. With your pH test result, we will let you know what amount of lime or sulfur is needed if any.

The CCE-Schenectady Horticulture Program will perform a pH test on soil samples that are brought to our Education Center at 107 Nott Terrace, for a fee of $5/sample. Please see instructions on "How to take a soil sample", and print and complete this FORM (SIZEkb PDF). If you are unable to download or print the form in advance, hard copies are available at our offices.

Nutrient Analysis

Soil samples for nutrient analysis may be mailed to Agro-One Agronomy Services, 730 Warren Road, Ithaca, NY  14850, along with the appropriate form and fee. Copies of the test results are returned to the individual and to CCE, Schenectady about two weeks later, and you can contact us if necessary for assistance in interpreting your results.  The Lab requests soil be mailed in a sample box, available from Agro-One or CCE, Schenectady, at no extra cost. 

Agro-One Soils Laboratory (800) 344-2697 x 2179, www.dairyone.com

Standard soil nutrient test $12/sample
This test provides recommendations for establishment and maintenance of home lawns and gardens, commercial turf, commercial vegetables, commercial fruit, and field crops (pasture, hay, annual crops). Measures pH (in water), phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium and micro nutrients including organic matter. Samples are sent to Agro-One Lab located at 730 Warren Rd., Ithaca. Expect at least two weeks for test results to be returned.

Download and print the FORM to include with your soil test samples. (NOTE: when you visit the above link, you will see a list of different forms. For testing home garden soils, download and print Submittal Form H for Lawn, Garden and Landscapes and Form H2 if you are submitting multiple samples).

Additional tests are available through Agro-One.  Visit their website for information.

Contact

Angela Tompkins
Cooperative Extension Educator
amj22@cornell.edu
(518) 372-1622 ext. 259

Last updated June 29, 2016