Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Services

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Orchard and vineyard soil

When to sample orchards and vineyards

Samples should be taken at the time of establishment. Corrective fertilizer and lime treatment should be applied before planting.

On established orchards and vineyards, soil testing should be used in conjunction with plant testing for proper nutrient management.

Commercial fruits, vegetables and turfs soil sample information form (PDF)

Horticultural or commercial crops for which recommendations are given

Up to three crops with associated yields can be selected for each sample. That is for one soil sample submitted you may get recommendations for apples, peaches and brambles. So you may choose any combination of three crops of those crops listed in the table below.

Code Crop
Fruit - new plantings
1 Apples and pears
2 Blueberries
3 Brambles
Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries
4 Grapes
5 Stone fruits
Peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, nectarines
6 Strawberries
Fruits - established plantings
7 Apples and pears
8 Blueberries
9 Brambles
Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries
10 Grapes
11 Stone fruits
Peaches, plums, apricots, cherries, nectarines
12 Strawberries
21 Asparagus, new
22 Asparagus, established
23 Beans and peas
24 Beets
25 Broccoli
26 Brussels sprouts
27 Cabbage
28 Carrots
29 Caulifower
30 Cucumbers
31 Lettuce
32 Melons
Watermelons, cantaloupes
33 Onions, dry
34 Onions, green
35 Peppers
36 Potatoes
37 Pumpkin and squash
38 Radishes
39 Spinach
40 Sweet corn
41 Sweet potatoes
42 Tomatoes
Turf - establishment
61 Turf establishment or renovation
Turf - maintenance
62 Athletic field, cool season
Bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass
63 Athletic field, warm season
Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass
64 Commercial sod, cool season
Bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass
65 Commercial sod, warm season
Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, buffalograss
66 Low maintenance turf, cool season
Bluegrass, fescue, ryegrass
67 Low maintenance turf, warm season
:Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, buffalograss
Golf courses
68 Putting greens
69 Fairways, cool season
Bentgrass, ryegrass, bluegrass, tall fescue
70 Fairways, warm season
Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass
71 Tees, cool season
Bentgrass, ryegrass, bluegrass
72 Tees, warm season
Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass

Obtaining a 6- to 7-inch core for soil samplingcHow to take a soil sample

Obtaining a 6- to 7-inch core for soil sampling.

  1. Discard organic duff on top of soil.
  2. Put 6- to 7-inch soil core in sampling bucket.
  3. Discard soil below 6 to 7 inches.


Coring tools

Coring devices are best for soil sampling. Augers are recommended on rocky soils. Hand samplers at least 3 feet long are desirable because they reduce back strain.


A power drill facilitates sampling in rocky or dry soils. Use a plastic container with a hole in the middle to collect the soil as the auger pulls it out of the ground. Empty the soil out of the plastic container into the soil sample bucket after each successful attempt to get a 6-inch core.

Soil samples should consist of uniform soil areas. Each area should have the same soil color and texture, cropping history, and fertilizer, lime and manure treatments. One sample should not represent more than 20 acres on level, uniform landscapes, or five acres on hilly or rolling land. Within each area collect 15 to 30 subsamples (cores, boring or spade slices) in a zigzag pattern throughout the sample area. The more variable the soil, the more subsamples should be combined per area samples. Mix the subsamples thoroughly in a clean plastic pail, and fill the sample box or bag to the fill line (one pint). If samples are collected wet, they should be dried before being mixed and submitted to the laboratory. Do not exceed a drying temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and do not use a microwave to dry the soil unless only the nitrate test is requested.

At the time of establishment, it is recommended that both surface (0 to 6 inches) and subsoil (6 to 12 inches) samples are taken.

After establishment only surface samples need to be taken.

Where to submit soil samples

  • County extension centers
    (preferred method)
  • Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory
    23 Mumford Hall
    Columbia, MO 65211
    Phone: 573-882-0623
    Fax: 573-884-4288
  • Soil Testing Laboratory Delta Research Center
    P.O. Box 160
    Portageville, MO 63873
    Phone: 573-379-5431
    Fax: 573-379-5875

Sample submitted directly to the lab should be accompanied by the sample information form and a check for the amount due payable to MU Soil Testing, unless you have an account with us. 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.

We encourage you to submit your samples through the county extension offices. Firms or businesses may set up individual accounts with the lab to submit the samples directly.

Each sample submitted to our lab should be accompanied by an information form. These forms should be filled out accurately for proper fertilizer recommendations. Including county names is essential for us to mail the soil test results to the appropriate area agronomist or horticulturalist. This information is important to determine the soil region and to complete the soil test summary report for the state.

Samples from firms should contain the firm and outlet number for proper return of results and billing.

Send the original form with the soil sample(s) and retain a copy for your records.

Send soil samples in proper containers such as the boxes and bags specifically designed for soil samples. (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.

Commercial fruits, vegetables and turfs soil sample information forms and sample boxes can be obtained from the county extension centers or at the soil testing labs free of charge or printed from the Web.
Commercial fruits, vegetables and turfs soil sample information form (PDF)

Soil tests to request

Regular fertility tests
For a general analysis of a soil's fertility, a regular soil test package includes:

  • pH
  • Neutralizable acidity
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Organic matter
  • Cation exchange capacity

In certain cases additional tests may be required.

  • Micronutrients
    Zinc, iron, copper and manganese
    Micronutrients may be desired in high pH soils
  • Sulfur
    Sandy soils low in organic matter may have sulfur deficiency
  • Salt content
    (electrical conductivity)
    Soils with salt problems should be tested for salt content (e.g. salt or fertilizer spills, heavy applications of manure, irrigating with alkaline water, can lead to salt problems.

Soil fertility analysis tests and fees

Analysis Fee

Regular soil fertility test

  • pHs
  • Neutralizable acidity
  • Organic matter
  • Bray-1 phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Cation exchange capacity
  • Fertilizer recommendations
Secondary and minor nutrients
Zinc ($4 if run with regular or iron, manganese and copper) $5
Sulfur $4
Iron, manganese and copper $4.50
Sodium ($1.50 if run with regular) $4
Boron $5
Other special tests
Nitrate $4
Ammonium $4
Nitrate and ammonium (NO3-N and NH4-N -- Inorganic N) $7
Total exchangeable bases (Ca, Mg, K, Na) $6
Electrical conductivity $6
Chloride $6
Particle size analysis $12
pHw or pHs ($2.50 if run with regular) $4
Lime requirement (pH and N.A.) $5
Total Kjeldhal nitrogen (TKN) $12
TKN and Inorganic N and organic N $20
Total phosphorus (TP) $15
Total potassium (TK) $15
Sodium absorption ratio (SAR) $12
Exchangeable sodium percentage (ESP) $12
Base saturation (percent) $12
Bray-II phosphorus $4
Mechlich III or Olson P $4
Organic matter $5
Cation exchange capacity (addition method) $12
Setup fee, if less than five samples for special tests $20
* Walk-in rate
The fee for regular fertility tests varies in counties depending on their shipping and handling costs. Contact your county extension centetr to get the exact cost when submitting through their office.

In the labTurnaround time

  • Soil sample analysis
    1.5 working days after samples are received in the lab
  • Plant, compost, greenhouse media and water analysis
    4 to 5 working days after samples are received in the lab

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.

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

Interpreting the resulti

Interpreting the results and recommendations of soil tests

Interpretations and recommendations are based on the crops you select on the Soil Information Forms. As recommendations differ for different crops, it is important you select the cropping options you intend to plant.

The soil test results you receive will contain the following information:

  • Field information and sample ID you provided on the sample information form.
  • Soil test results
    • pHs
    • Phosphorus
    • Potassium
    • Calcium
    • Magnesium
    • Organic matter
    • Netralizable acidity
    • Calculated cation exchange capacity
    • Electrical conductivity
  • If you requested zinc, manganese, iron, copper, sodium, nitrate, ammonium, or boron these results are also given.
  • Suggested fertilizer requirements in pounds per acre for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P2O5), and potassium (K2O), are given (zinc, and sulfur are also given if requested).
  • Lime and magnesium treatments are based on soil test levels and crop options.

Interpretations and recommendations are documented in

Updated 9/14/11