Agriculture & Natural Resources

Why Soil Sampling is Important

and How to Take a Good Sample

No matter what you are growing, flowers, vegetables, a beautiful lawn, or just hay, they all need proper nutrition to reach their full potential. So how do you know if you’re giving them what they need?
The answer is, test your soil. Ideally, this should be done each fall so you have time to amend the soil prior to the next growing season but you can do it at any time of year. It’s especially important to test any time you’re trying to establish a new bed. WVU Extension provides free soil testing and offers these tips on how to take a good sample:

  • Pick several spots at random in your yard or garden area. Using a shovel, open a hole as deep as the face of the shovel (about 6 inches). Take a slice of soil down one side of the hole (to represent the whole length of the profile and place it in a bucket. You will do that randomly to cover the whole garden and/or bed area. After mixing well the soil you’ve collected in the bucket, take enough soil to fill a 1 gallon size zip-lock bag half way.
  • The soil must be air-dry. Do not dry the soil in an oven or microwave. Spread it out on a tray and set it on top of the refrigerator or in a window sill. You only need pint of soil for a good test.
  • When it is dry, put the soil into a clean plastic bag, fill out the form (available from the Hancock County Extension Office or download it from our “Forms” page) place the form and sample in a large envelope and mail to:

WVU Plant Diagnostic Clinic
G102 South Agricultural Sciences Building
P.O. Box 6108
Morgantown, WV 26506

Office Information

WVU Extension Service
Hancock County Office
104 N. Court St.#203
P. O. Box 457
New Cumberland, WV 26047

Phone 304-564-3805/3807
Fax 304-564-5047

Office hrs: Mon-Fri 8:30-4:30
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