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Soil Testing

The only way to know what the pH and Nutrient levels in your soil are is to have them tested. For most crops a basic soil nutrient analysis test is all that is needed. For fruit crops a leaf nutrient analysis is also recommended. The soil nutrient analysis measures the levels of pH, macronutrients and calcium present in the soil and compares them to your crop demands. Your test results provide 3 years of recommendations specific to your crop and your soil.

The Cornell Soil Health Team has pioneered a more comprehensive test that gives you a fuller picture of your soil’s health as measured by compaction, organic matter, and life in the soil, in addition to pH and nutrients. For complete instructions visit the Cornell Soil Health page.

Soil nutrient analyses should be conducted once every three years on each individual field you grow. A field is defined by a separate geographic location or different crops (mixed grasses, and mixed vegetables can be grouped).

Leaf analyses determine the amount of nutrients that are actually making it into the plant. Pair these with a soil test and you have powerful information.

To find out where to submit a soil sample for testing in your state, contact your local Cooperative Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District or NRCS office.

If you haven’t already had your soil tested, we highly recommend you do this before investing any further in production. As you continue planning, be sure to factor in any time and money it may take to amend your soil in preparation for whatever enterprise you choose.

Continue on to learn about the importance of understanding your climate>>