Where do I get a soil test box?
Soil test boxes are available at the Caldwell Soil & Water Conservation District, at the NC Cooperative Extension Service office and at many farm supply stores in Caldwell County.
A soil test report gives you precise nutrient requirements for the soil type and plant type in your situation. Think of the money you'll save by only adding the fertilizer you really need!
How is soil is tested?
The NC Deptartment of Agriculture and Consumer Services is a state agency that tests soils free or at a minimal cost depending on the time of year you sample. From April - November there is no cost; from December - March the cost is $4.00 per soil sample. More information about the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomy Services can be found here. To access soil testing reports click here.
Cardboard sampling boxes are available at Caldwell Soil and Water Conservation District office. You fill the box ¾ full with soil and send it to the testing facility in Raleigh. Sample three to four months before fertilizer applications to ensure there is enough time to get the report back.
There are also soil test kits for sale at local garden centers. These range from $3 to $7.
Small Garden Trowel
Be sure that all equipment is clean of dirt and fertilizer or any other debris. Equipment should be made of stainless steel or plastic. That way you avoid contaminating your sample with trace metals.
At approximately 5-10 locations within your property, take soil samples to a depth of 4" (lawn) or 8" (garden). Samples only need to be a spoonful or less. Each of the samples should come from the same soil type. Any soil that is VERY different in color or texture, should be tested separately. So avoid small areas where conditions are very different. Examples include: wet spots, natural areas, landscaped areas, etc. Mix all of the samples together thoroughly in the bucket. This will give you a composite sample to test.
Testing gives you precise information regarding the condition of your soil. With that information, you are able to:
You can get a soil test kit: