Master Gardener volunteer conducts a pH soil test on a soil sample
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-Wayne'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 Wayne Home Horticulture Program will conduct pH tests for soil samples that are brought to our Education Center at 1581 Route 88 North, for a nominal fee. Please see instructions on "How to take a soil sample".

Nutrient Analysis

Individuals collect and submit soil samples for nutrient analysis directly to the soil nutrient lab in Ithaca. Soil sample collection boxes and nutrient analysis submission forms are available from our office along with instructions on "How to take a soil sample". Our Master Gardeners are available should you have questions.

Samples are sent to Agro-One soil lab along with the sample submission form. Copies of the test results are returned to the individual about one week later. If you would like our office to receive a copy of your results, in case you need help interpreting results, you'll need to include our information on the right side of your submission form. 

Agro-One Soils Laboratory (800) 344-2697 x 2179

Standard soil nutrient test
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 one week 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 (available through Agro-One)

  • Soluble Salts
  • No-till pH
  • Nitrate
  • Boron

Contact

Laurie VanNostrand
Master Gardener Program Coordinator/Consumer Horticulture
ljv8@cornell.edu
315-331-8415 x107

Last updated October 17, 2019