Soil Testing and Plant Diagnostic Services
How to take a soil sample
Obtaining a 6- to 7-inch core for soil sampling.
- Discard organic duff on top of soil.
- Put 6- to 7-inch soil core in sampling bucket.
- Discard soil below 6 to 7 inches.
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.
Where to submit soil samples
- County extension centers
- Soil and Plant Testing Laboratory
23 Mumford Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
- Soil Testing Laboratory Delta Research Center
P.O. Box 160
Portageville, MO 63873
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.