Fall a Great Time for Soil Testing; In Greene County, the Master Gardeners are Now Coordinating the Service

  • Published: Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- A person cannot tell whether a field, lawn, or garden has too much phosphorus or too little organic matter by merely smelling and touching the soil. 

But, if a sample of the soil is taken to a local University of Missouri Extension center, it can be tested to determine exactly what is needed to maximize the potential of the soil.

A soil test provides information on the nutrient levels (potassium, calcium or lime, and magnesium), percent of organic matter and lime requirements

“With this type of information, a fertilizer and lime program can be determined based on the needs of the plants to be grown and the condition of the soil," said Kelly McGowan, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension.


Any county extension center can help with a soil test and provide custom reports that meet your specific needs. 

In Springfield, Master Gardeners of Greene County are hosting a “soil collection day” every Thursday in the Botanical Center. Soil samples can be brought by on Thursday between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to drop off the soil, complete the paperwork and pay for the testing. 

Master Gardener Barbara Ingalsbe is coordinating the hotline room and the collection of soil on Thursdays each week.

All proceeds from soil testing will benefit the local Maste' Gardeners chapter.

An agronomy or horticulture specialist with MU Extension will review each soil test in Greene County and give personalized recommendations.


When taking a soil sample from the lawn, garden or field, use a clean spade and clean pail. Push the spade deep into soil and throw out a spade full of soil. 

Then cut a one-inch slice of soil from the back of the hole with the spade. Be sure the slice goes seven inches deep and is even in width and thickness. Place this slice in the pail.

Repeat these steps five or six times at different spots over your lawn, garden or field. 

Thoroughly mix the six or seven slices you have in the pail. After mixing the soil to your nearest extension center. Each sample should contain about one and one-half cups of dry soil. 

There is a fee for a soil test to cover laboratory costs. Getting results back generally takes from one to two weeks.

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.

Each soil test done with the MU Extension office also comes with recommendations made by a trained and experienced specialist who can also answer any questions you have free-of-charge.

"Without the information a soil test provides all you can do is guess. A guess will normally result in crop loss or poor blooming," said McGowan. "To make it easy for you to interpret the soil test results, your report form will indicate which fertilizers, and how much, you should apply.”


For more information on soil testing, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center or visit http://extension.missouri.edu and download UMC Guide 9110, “How to Get a Good Soil Sample” and Guide 9111, “Using Your Soil Test Results.” Information is also available online at extension.missouri.edu/greene.

Writer: David Burton

Media Contact

Kelly McGowan

Related Programs

Use Tab key to loop through the section below. Press Enter or Space to enter content for each tab button. Press Esc key to exit and to go to the next section at any time.

Extension resources