How to submit samples

Where to submit samples

Follow the instructions below when submitting your samples. Check that you have included all the necessary items (see "Be sure to include" dropdown below) and submit samples directly to:

Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory
23 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-0623
Fax: 573-884-4288

Questions? Email the lab.

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    Packaging samples

    Soil samples

    • Minimum sample size for soil: 1 cup
    • Send soil samples in proper containers, such as the boxes and bags specifically designed for them. Soil sample boxes may be obtained free from your local University Extension center. AVOID glass jars, coffee cans, plastic bags, etc.
    • If samples are very wet, allow them to air dry for a day before mailing. Wet samples should not be sent in sample boxes that are plastic lined as they will not allow soil to dry during transit.
    • Copy the serial number and field/sample ID from the sample information form to the soil sample container.

    Plant samples

    • If dust is present, brushing or wiping with a clean damp cloth may be sufficient. If not, rinse briefly with water while the material is still fresh.
    • Fresh plant tissue should be air dried before sending. After air drying, put the sample in a clean paper bag or envelope.

    Compost samples

    • Samples should be approximately 1 quart.
    • 10% discount on 20 or more samples submitted at one time.

    Greenhouse media

    • A minimum of 1 quart of media is needed for analysis.
    • $10 setup fee if less than five samples submitted. 10% discount on 20 or more samples submitted at one time.

    Manure samples

    • Take a representative sample – Obtaining a representative manure sample from each storage area is critical to getting accurate test results. The basic guideline is to collect multiple samples, mix them together and make a composite sample. Obtain samples from at least 10 different places and/or depths to make the composite sample. In the case of poultry litter, sample to the bottom of the litter. If possible, agitate the liquids before collecting the sample.
    • Submitting dry samples – Submit 1 quart of dry manure in a Ziploc bag, squeeze excess air from the bag and seal it. Complete the manure testing sample information form and make sure to write your sample number or ID on the bag and mail it to the lab.
    • Submitting wet samples – Submit 1 pint of liquid manure in a plastic container. Do not fill the container. Make sure to leave at least one-third free space and tighten the cap securely. Complete the manure testing sample information form and write your sample number or ID on the container with permanent ink and mail it to the lab.

    Water samples

    • Minimum sample size for water: 1 quart
    • It is important to obtain a representative water sample and avoid any contamination of the sample.
    • Plastic bottles are preferred. Glass bottles may excrete boron and are more susceptible to breakage during shipping. Always use a clean bottle. Rinse at least twice with the water to be sampled.
    • Properly label sample, preferably with permanent ink. Make sure the container is tightly closed and does not leak.
    • After collecting a water sample, submit directly to the lab. Each sample should be accompanied by the sample information form.
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    Be sure to include

    Each sample submitted directly to the lab should be accompanied by a sample information form (see forms below) and a payment for the amount due. Please check our Tests and fees page and include a payment for the desired tests and sample quantities.

    Payment options:

    • Pay by check (payable to MU Soil Testing).
    • Pay by credit card (for soil tests only) and submit your email receipt along with your sample and form. Online credit card payments are intended only for those submitting samples directly to the lab; NOT for county offices or firms that have accounts with the lab.

    Soil sample forms:

    These forms should be filled out accurately for proper fertilizer recommendations. It is essential to include your county on the form so the lab can send the soil test results to the appropriate agronomist or horticulturalist in your area. This information is also important to determine the soil region and to complete the soil test summary report for the state. Send the original form with the sample(s) and retain a copy for your records.

    Firms or businesses may set up individual accounts with the lab to submit the samples directly. If you have an account with us, fill in the firm and outlet number and we will bill you at the end of the month.

    Samples can be brought into the lab directly or mailed using the mail carrier of your choice – shipping charges are covered by the customer. See lab address at top of page.

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    Turnaround time

    (after samples are received by the lab)

    Soil sample analysis: 1.5 working days

    Plant, compost, greenhouse media and water analysis: 4 to 5 working days

    Manure analysis: 5 to 7 working days

    If samples are mailed, allow time to and from the lab.

    Results of samples submitted through county extension offices are mailed first to the county agronomist or horticulturalist for comments or individualized recommendations. The county then mails the recommendations to the person submitting the sample.

    Test reports can be emailed on request at no charge or faxed for a nominal fee.

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    Tests and fees

    See the Tests and fees page for more information on tests and costs for each sample type.