How to Sample Soils for Pesticides & Herbicides


Whether you're having your soil analyzed for chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides or testing for pH level, mineral or nutrient content, the process is similar. Delivering a proper sample to a testing facility will ensure that you receive an accurate assessment of your soil's chemical content. Some soil-testing facilities will recommend changes in the way you collect the soil, but most laboratories have the same procedure.

Step 1

Select a garden trowel that is not made of galvanized metal, brass or bronze. These materials can contaminate your sample.

Step 2

Clean your tools, including your garden trowel and plastic bucket, with water before using. Dry tools thoroughly.

Step 3

Dig 1 tbsp. of soil from the surface of your sampling location. Place this into a bucket. Then dig down approximately 6 inches and remove another tbsp. of soil and place in the bucket. Repeat for all sampling sites throughout your property.

Step 4

Mix all samples completely. Place the samples in a brown paper bag and close with a twist tie.

Step 5

Label the bag with the locations you have sampled, as well as any information your laboratory requires.

Step 6

Place all sample bags in a sturdy, cardboard box and ship to the laboratory for testing.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose
  • Garden trowel
  • Plastic bucket
  • Brown paper bags
  • Twist tie
  • Ink pen


  • A&L Eastern Laboratories: How to Take a Soil Sample
  • North Dakota State University: How do I Take a Soil Sample?
  • Texas A&M University: Soil Sampling

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina Department of Agriculture: Soil Sampling for Home Lawns and Gardens
Keywords: testing soil, taking dirt samples, laboratory analysis

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.