The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

April 2, 2013

Get an accurate soil sample

MADISON COUNTY — Tools You Need: A soil probe, auger, garden trowel or a spade and knife are all the tools you need to take the individual cores that will make up the “field” sample.

You also will need a clean, dry, plastic bucket to collect and mix the sample cores. Soil sample bags and information forms for submitting samples are available at the Madison County Extension Office.

Collecting Samples: An individual sample should represent no more than 20 acres. Collect at least 10 soil cores for small areas and up to 30 cores for larger fields. Take the soil cores randomly throughout the sampling area and place them in the bucket. Do not sample:

• Back furrows or dead furrows

• Old fencerows

• Areas used for manure or hay storage and livestock feeding, and 4) areas where lime has been piled in the past.

Sample Depth: One commonly overlooked component of soil sampling is the depth of soil to be tested. Most plant nutrients accumulate at the soil surface.

• Tilled Areas: Take soil cores to the depth of the tillage operation (usually 6 to 8 inches).

• No-Tillage or Reduced-Tilled Areas: Take soil cores to a depth of 3 to 4 inches for pastures, no-till planting (where fertilizer or lime remains on the soil surface), and minimum-till planting (where fertilizer is incorporated only in the surface 1 to 2 inches).

• Lawns and Turfgrasses: Collect soil cores to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

Sample Preparation: After all cores for an individual sample are collected and placed in the bucket, crush the soil material and mix the sample thoroughly. Allow the sample to air dry in an open space free from contamination. Do not dry the sample in an oven or at an abnormally high temperature. When dry, fill the sample container with the soil.

DO NOT bring in soil samples with gravel, raw manure, plant debris, muddy soil, mulch or raw compost in them! Bring us at least two cups of soil. \

There is no cost to Madison County residents, but there is a 10 sample per person per year limit. Give me a call at 623-4072 for more details.

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