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Soil Testing in Pennsylvania

By Julie Christensen ; Updated September 21, 2017
Soil testing allows you to amend your soil accurately, resulting in healthier plants.

In Pennsylvania, residents obtain a soil test through the Pennsylvania State University Extension Office, in cooperation with county extension offices. The extension office offers a basic, inexpensive soil test that analyzes the pH level and nutrient content of your soil. If you specify the plants you want to grow in your garden space, you'll even receive detailed recommendations for soil amendments, such as lime and fertilizer. Knowing your soil's soil composition saves time and money, as you know exactly which plants will flourish in your natural soil and how to adjust your soil for more finicky plants.

Buy a Soil Test Kit

Purchase a soil test kit from your local Pennsylvania State University county extension office. The cost of $9, as of 2010, includes the soil test kit and the test.

Buy a soil test kit from garden stores or nurseries that carry Pennsylvania State University's soil test kits.

Download a soil sample submission form from Pennsylvania State University's Agricultural Analytical Services Lab. Complete the submission form and prepare the soil sample in your own container. Submit it, along with a check made out to Pennsylvania State University for $9, to your local county extension office.

Preparing the Soil Sample

Determine the area of your yard you want sampled. If your starting a new vegetable garden, for example, you'll need to test that area separately from your lawn, because vegetable gardening soil requirements differ from lawn soil requirements.

Scoop eight samples from the designated area with a clean shovel. Obtain 1/2 cup of soil from each sample, digging down to a depth of at least 6 inches.

Mix the soil samples with the shovel in a clean bucket.

Pour the mixed soil onto a clean piece of paper and allow it to dry for two hours. Mix the soil again in the bucket. Scoop 1 lb. soil into the soil kit container.

Submit the Soil Test Kit

Seal the soil test kit, according to package directions.

Label the soil test kit with your name, address and an identification of the soil (for example, "vegetable garden soil").

Submit the soil test kit along with the submission form to your local county extension office.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Clean shovel
  • Clean bucket
  • Clean piece of paper
  • Container for the soil test

Tip

  • Don't sample soil that has recently been fertilized or is very wet.

About the Author

 

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."