Rockwall County Extension Agent: Soil testing helps your landscape and pastures look their best

ROCKWALL, TX – March 19, 2021 – Now is the time to take soil samples. 2020 provided us with many challenges, but the seasons were not disrupted.  Plants continued to grow and use nutrients from the soil even if we were not able to get out much to see the changes.  With the coming of spring and spring fever, now is the time to see what your soil has in the form of nutrients before you purchase something you don’t need.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory

Whether you are about to start from a new landscape, renovate and old one, need to fertilize grass for livestock, or just want to add fertilizer, get a soil test.  It is recommended that you test your soil every two years.  It is a very simple procedure of taking soil samplings around the desired area.  Dry the samplings out then mix together.  Drying the soil reduces the weight and the cost of shipping samples.  Fill the soil test bag (or half of a paper lunch sack) and complete the needed information a Soil Sample Form that can be located at soiltesting.tamu.edu.

Choose which submittal form is correct for you: Urban/Homeowner – SU21, or Soil Sample for pastures – S21.  Complete the information and choose which analysis you need.  Most residents choose a routine analysis. Then box the submittal form, sample(s) and send to the address on the form. Samples usually take 10-14 days with analysis sent back hard copy or by email.

Soil sample kits are available at the County Extension Office as well as the directions for collecting the sample.  Call 972-204-7660 for more information, stop by the Extension Office at 915 Whitmore Dr., Suite B, Rockwall.

It is also important to test your ornamental beds separately from your lawn. The value of your tests is noticed by the amount of nutrients you add to the soil, the difference that you notice in your plants, and the amount it costs you in disposable income.  After all, if you do not know what nutrients are already in your soil, how will you know what fertilize formula you need and how much to purchase?

It does not matter where you get the soil tested as long as it is a reputable location.  At Extension office we have forms and information for the Soil Testing Labs at Texas A&M University and the Samuel Noble Foundation.  There are private labs in the area as well, and some nurseries provide a similar service.  The key is to choose one and stick with it.  Switching from one source to another will not allow you to understand the differences from amendments made between testings.

Use your money wisely when adding amendments to the soil and help keep the environment healthy.

By Todd Williams, Rockwall County Extension Agent Ag and Natural Resources, for publication in Blue Ribbon News. 




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