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Soil Test Information

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Don’t guess, soil test.

Any successful gardener in this area will tell you that the key to a beautiful lawn or garden starts with healthy soil. The only way to ensure your soil is healthy, however, is to conduct a soil test. Soil test results guide decisions like which type of fertilizer to use and whether or not to apply lime. Different types of plants have different pH and nutrient requirements. By soil testing, you can ensure you are applying the proper amounts for optimal growth of all your plants and reducing the amount of excess fertilizers that end up in our streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. Read more about the importance and value of taking a soil sample.

How do I take a soil sample?

Fortunately, we have taken all the guesswork out of taking a correct soil sample. This short video explains everything you will need to know in order to take an appropriate sample and prepare for submission.

Who tests the soil and where do I get forms and boxes?

The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services – Agronomic Division is based in Raleigh, NC, and processes thousands of soil samples each year in their state-of-the-art laboratory. Forms and soil boxes are available at your local county cooperative extension office.

If you are testing soil from a home garden, you will need to download and fill out the homeowner submission form or submit online.

How and When Will I receive my soil test results?

Processing time varies based on the time of year, but is updated regularly. You can find your report as well as turnaround times for a particular type of sample on the PALS website. When searching for your report, it is important that you type your last name first, followed by your first name last.

Soil samples are free from April 1–November 30 every year. A peak season fee of $4 is in effect from December 1–March 31. Read more about sample fees.

Learn more!

Once you have received your report, contact your local Extension agent and we can help you interpret the results and make fertilizer recommendations that will meet your garden’s needs. We also offer home gardening classes that go deeper into soil sampling and soil amendments. Here is our current class list.