Time for a Soil Test

Bring your soil to the Greene County Extension Center to be tested and make sure you don't waste money by over-fertilizing. We can do soil testing for gardens, lawns, fields and commercial operations. Results are typically back to you in 7 to 10 days. In most cases, gardens, lawns and fields should be tested every two years.

Informational card: Don't Guess, Soil Test (PDF)

Relevant publications: Soil Testing for Lawns and Interpreting Soil Test Results

Collecting Soil for a Test

Three easy steps will make it possible to get an accurate soil test from Greene County Extension.

1. Use a soil probe, spade or trowel to take a slice of soil 1/2 to 1 inch thick from a hole six inches deep.  Place this sample in a clean plastic bowl or box.  Dry or damp soil is okay, but soggy soil should be allowed to air dry.

2. Collect additional samples at six to 10 randomly selected spots in your lawn or garden.  Mix the samples thoroughly, breaking any clumps.  Try not to include roots, thatch, rocks or gravel in the sample.

3. Seal two cups of the mixture in a plastic bag, plastic bowl or box.  Bring your sample to the Greene County Extension office.

Bob Schultheis, a specialist with MU Extension in Webster County, also has a video demonstrating how to collect soil for a test.

What You Get

The University of Missouri soil test promises exceptional test quality with more details than in other tests.

In about 7 to 10 days, a soil test statement, with a document explaining how to read it, will be sent to the address you provide.

Tests will show pH and phosphorus levels,  potassium, calcium, magnesium and organic matter and other elements that apply to your situation. All of these tested elements are  important to the growth of turf grass and various garden and farm plants.

Each soil test done with the extension office comes with individualized recommendations made by a trained and experienced specialist.

If you have questions about the results, there are Extension specialists who can answer questions about the soil test results free of charge. MU Extension trained Master Gardeners also provide informational assistance for lawn and gardening questions year-round free of charge.

The soil test report provides information on: Soil test results and ratings; Suggested fertilizer and limestone treatments for the lawn or field; and fertility management practices or concerns.

What You Save

Having a soil test done will save fertilizer costs on your lawns or fields. With the price of fertilizer going up 50% since 2007, your soil test will save you much more than what it costs to have done.

In this area, lawn care companies charge $50 for a soil test.

This price is a bargain when you consider the cost savings realized and the environmental importance of having a soil test done so you do not over-fertilize.

Soil testing is a wonderful tool that can help you make money. It can save you money on unnecessary nutrients if your soil is already sufficient in nutrients.

A soil test can increase yield by showing you that a nutrient is deficient and applying that nutrient will increase yield.

Soil tests can also help save on gas costs since the test may reveal the need for less fertilizer, and therefore fewer passes on the tractor.