||Taking Soil Samples for Analysis and Recommendations
An accurate soil analysis is vital to understanding your soil.
We use high quality laboratory analyses that work specifically for our system.
Before sending soil samples to us please check out Taking a Good Soil Sample
and Sending Soil Samples to K.A.S.
From the basis of a detailed soil analysis, and plant tissue analysis when
necessary, and - importantly - the additional information that you provide by
completing the free soil test worksheet, we build a specific fertilizer recommendation
for each soil sample, tailoring the recommendations to your particular operation
The recommendations will utilize the proven principles of the Kinsey/ Albrecht
system of soil fertility management. The aim is to correct and raise the overall
soil fertility to improve and maintain yields and/or crop quality. If we have
previously made recommendations for the same soil location, and it has been
properly identified as such, then these previous analyses and recommendations
are taken into account also.
Samples originating outside of the U.S. and Canada require specific USDA
clearance, and may also have to be priced differently according to the service you
require - please contact us for the proper procedures, and information concerning
cost of analysis and turn-around time before sending any soil or plant samples
from outside the U.S.A.
For a printable version of this page (pdf) click here.
Our recommendation report for each sample has two parts: the soil analysis and recommendations
for achieving the proper fertility level. The basic soil analysis will normally include:
Total Exchange Capacity (T.E.C.)
Organic Matter (Humus) as percent
Nitrogen (N released from colloidal humus)
Sulfate (Expressed as elemental sulfur) in ppm
Phosphates (as P205)
Olsen value (Included at no charge if pH is above 7.5)
Percent Base Saturation of:
Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium levels - in lbs/acre*
Boron in ppm
Iron in ppm
Manganese in ppm
Copper in ppm
Zinc in ppm
Additional Tests (all optional and available at an additional charge per sample, please contact
us for current prices):
Cobalt in ppm (We encourage this test for each sample that you send to us for the first
time for any area that will provide feed for livestock or significant
amounts of food for people.)
Molybdenum in ppm
Chlorides in ppm, Salt Concentration in d/Sm
Manure Analysis (includes S, Ca and Mg, plus B, Fe, Mn, Cu, & Zn)
Manure Analysis (N-P-K only)
* or, if you prefer, in kg/ha; lbs/1000sq.ft.; lbs/cu.yd
Our recommendations for a specific plan of fertilizer amendments are tailored to your expressed
short or long term goals, and take into account the previous history of crops and fertilizers at the
location, farming conditions in the area, your type of operation (for instance organic or conventional),
fertilizer preferences, and other factors, as supplied by the grower, in addition to the condition of the
soil. Where appropriate the recommendations will include additional notes on materials to be used,
application method and timing. Please feel free to discuss your requirements beforehand with our
staff. Our aim is to provide a service that will achieve excellent results for you.
We do not sell fertilizers or soil amendments. It is suggested that to the extent possible you work
locally to obtain materials from your preferred fertilizer dealership. Since each soil is tested in more
detail than is customarily done in various areas, and provided as well with its own specific set of
recommendations, some needed materials may not always be stocked by local dealers. This tends
to be especially true for those striving to be certified organic growers. In such cases, where the
volume will be that of a semi-load or more of materials, you or your dealer may wish to contact North
Pacific Trading in Portland, Oregon as a source of fertilizer and/or soil amendments. (We have no
financial ties to North Pacific Trading but a number of our clients have used them to obtain gypsum,
rock phosphate, lime and high-quality micro-nutrient fertilizers.)
a Good Soil Sample
The way the soil samples are taken is extremely important, as the recommendations you
receive from soil tests will only be as good as the samples you send for analysis.
Following the instructions below will assure that the samples you send are taken in the way we need
them for a proper analysis.
When to take a soil sample. Soil samples may be collected at any time of the year, provided
that the area is not suffering from prolonged drought, that no nitrogen has been applied in the last
30 days and no sulfur has been used in the last six months.
Late spring and early summer sampling avoids the rush, shows the soil's fertility at its best and
gives time to plan a soil fertility program which can begin directly following harvest if necessary.
However, if no samples have been taken within the last two years, the best time to sample
is as soon as circumstances permit.
Generally, sampling should be done every year if fertility is high and / or trace elements are being
used to achieve top yields. CAUTION: without special arrangements we recommend that if possible,
no soil samples ever be sent for analysis when a soil is so extremely dry that plants will not grow there.
Prepare a map of the areas being tested. A good map makes your sampling repeatable
from year to year and is useful at the time of fertilization. Designate a number, or some
other identification, even a name - up to 8 characters - for each field. Use permanent lines such
as roads, ditches and fences for boundary lines.
Divide the field map into areas that have the same soil color, slope, texture, drainage and past
history of erosion. Each area should have the same cropping history, fertilizer and manure treatments
and the same intended crop for all the ground within that area. Assign each of the areas sampled
a specific number or letter (or a combination of both) so you can correctly identify it.
For example, Field #2 could have three areas: A – the high ground, B – the sloping ground,
and C – the low, level ground. The numbers written on the sample bag would be 2A, 2B, and 2C.
It is recommended that sampled areas represent no more than 20 acres (8-9 hectares) the first
year our testing program is used, even if soils are uniform in texture and relief. Areas with taller
or shorter plants, different weed or grass patterns, higher or lower yields, etc., should be avoided,
or sampled separately if large enough to fertilize properly. The next time samples are taken,
combine those areas that by analysis have been shown to be alike. You may wish to combine very
small areas that have all the same characteristics, into one composite sample.
Sample at least 300 feet (92m) away from gravel or crushed limestone roads and stay at least
20 feet (6m) away from fence rows or the edge of a field.
Avoid, or sample separately, the following:
. Eroded hillsides or low spots
. Terraces, ditch banks, old roadbeds or fence rows
. Animal droppings, urine spots, burn piles, old manure, straw or hay stacks
. Areas around sheds, barns and / or where buildings have formerly stood
. Lime, fertilizer, chemical spill areas and fertilizer bands
. Dead and back furrows
. Drought-stressed areas
. Areas where large amounts of sulfur have been applied in the last two to six months,
or where nitrogen has been knifed in or recently broadcast in large amounts.
See also For Those Who Utilize Soil Tests.
The sample bag: Use a new soil-sample container, plastic bag or plastic container.
Soil-sample bags are available free from Kinsey Agricultural Services. Zip-loc bags are fine –
as long as they have never been used - but put Scotch tape over the writing or attach masking
tape to write on because all types of marking ink can rub off the bag during shipment. Do not
use paper sacks from the grocery store, bread wrappers, or such items, due to possible
contamination. Avoid using a plastic bucket that has been used for other purposes. Even
repeated washings of a bucket used to mix salt and minerals for feed can still result in
contamination of the sample.
Label the sample bags with your name, the farm name if any, field number and sample area.
Prepare a map or sketch of the area for your own records. Make sure the labeling on the bag
matches the number of the field and area on your map. Labeling the bags to match the areas
before taking the sample helps.
A SOIL PROBE is recommended for easiest and best sampling results. Using a soil
probe or shovel, sample down to a depth of 6½ -7 inches (17cm), or to the depth the soil will be
thoroughly mixed when worked if that will be deeper than 6½ -7 inches. For no-till crops,
orchards, vineyards, pastures, hay meadows, lawns, etc., where soils will not be worked,
the depth should be 4 inches (10cm). Sampling to the proper depth is extremely important if
we are to provide each grower with the correct recommendations.
Put the soil, using several probes from like areas to make up the sample, into the sample bag.
Removal of obvious debris (roots, leaves, etc.) is fine but unnecessary as it will not adversely affect
the sample. If you do remove debris from the sample, be careful that none of the actual soil is
removed with it.
Probe the soil every 50 to 100 paces, always taking a minimum of 5 probes per composite
sample for smaller areas, and one probe for every 1 (one) to 2 (two) acres from larger areas.
Only a small amount of soil is necessary for analysis. A cupful of soil is more than enough.
Just be sure your sample represents the entire soil profile, if mixed, in order to send only a small
portion. Please remember : this will be a very detailed analysis, which will only be as
accurate as the sample you send.
Our "Hands-On Agronomy" DVD or Video Workshop has a section on taking soil samples
properly, and provides a visual look at how to sample. Should you be interested please see
our 'Publications' page for ordering information.
Soil Samples to Kinsey Agricultural Services
Pack the samples tightly. For larger packages (more than 2 or 3 samples), we recommend
UPS (United Parcel Service), Federal Express or a reputable shipper of that type.
Presently, within the United States, the US Postal Service has a small pre-paid box which can
be ordered from USPS.com, or the local Post Office, packed full and sent for a set flat-rate charge.
Just be sure to pack the samples tightly to avoid spillage or breaking open inside the box.
Soils may be sent wet or dry (use a Zip-loc or plastic lined bag for wet samples). Samples can be
dried at home by spreading them on waxed paper and air-drying. DO NOT DRY THE SAMPLES
IN AN OVEN. It is okay to leave samples to dry in the sun.
Please enclose a Soils Worksheet with your samples. Click here for a printable Soils Worksheet (pdf),
alternatively you can request Soil Worksheets via our Contact Us page, or call us at (573) 683 3880.
Be sure to complete the Worksheet as fully as possible ~ what you put on the Worksheet
determines how the tests will be run and how our recommendations will be made.
Completion of the Worksheet also helps us to keep turnaround time, and charges, to a minimum.
If your soil samples originate in the U.S.A. or Canada, please send the Soils Worksheet along
with the samples and payment to us at our Missouri address.
If you are sending soil or plant samples from outside the U.S. please first contact us for
the correct procedure. Failure to do this may result in your samples being destroyed by Customs,
or inordinate delays in processing! We will send you the relevant exemption stickers and address
labels, to conform to USDA regulations. Please check with us that we can meet your deadline.
Please note: No 'rush' samples can be accepted without prior approval from our office.
Copyright © 2007 Kinsey Agricultural Services, Inc. All rights reserved.