Every square foot of Alabama soil can be different. Testing soil for accurate nutrient levels is vital to amending the soil, and various plant species require different nutrients to maintain health. Taking accurate soil samples is the first step in testing the soil. Identifying the plant species that are located in those areas assists in specifying which nutrients are required before you begin planting.
Identify the soil-testing areas, as soil samples must be kept separate for each specified growing area. Collect samples from vegetable gardens, flower gardens or the lawn.
Take soil core samples from each identified area. Use a shovel or hand spade. Remove a small amount of soil from 15 to 20 locations in a zigzag pattern. Place each small soil sample into a clean bucket. The depth of each core sample must be 2- to 3-inches deep for uncultivated areas and 6- to 8-inches deep for cultivated areas such as vegetable and flower gardens.
Mix the soil samples together from each separate location. Do not mix different location soils together, as this will give false nutrient levels in the soil test analysis.
Take approximately 1 pint of soil from the bucket. Fill the cardboard soil sample box. Label the location on the side of the sample box.
Fill out the soil testing form that will accompany the soil sample box. Include the location of the sample area, the type of plants grown in the soil and any extra notations concerning the soil. Write as much information as possible concerning the location, sunlight and soil conditions.
Deliver the soil sample boxes to your Alabama county extension service.