Soil Testing

From Emily Wells Morrow, Agriculture & Natural Resources Agent, WVU Extension Service – Jefferson County

The WVU Soil Test Lab has changed the way testing is done, which means there are NEW AND IMPROVED soil test recommendations. I’d like to share some of the changes and answer common questions.

  1. The form — The new form is attached [see below]
  2. Testing — Because the testing method changed, we are now able to offer far more specific recommendations for a LOT more crop codes. On page 2 of the new form, you will see the new crop codes. While there is still a “vegetable garden” option, you can also get recommendations tailored just for lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, just to name a few. Other crop codes differentiations are corn for grain, corn for silage, grass-legume hay, grass hay Nitrogen fertilized. The possibilities are endless!
  3. A basic test remains free
  4. Organic matter — For $6 the lab will report your percentage of organic matter. For our vegetable producers, I highly recommend taking advantage of this service at least once. For reference, 5% is the goal number.
  5. Results — This has barely changed, there is still a pretty color chart to show if your nutrients are sufficient or not.
  6. Recommendations — An example report is attached [see below]. You now get two recommendations on the N-P-K numbers. One is “crop sufficiency rate,” meaning this is the recommendation to maintain soil fertility given what is being removed by the selected crop. On short term or rented ground, go with this option. The second is “build and maintenance rate,” which is the recommendation that will replenish what is taken off the field and then some, to help build up soil fertility.
  7. Utilize me — Soil is my favorite thing to talk about so please call me with any questions!

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone to take advantage of this free resource once a year. Soil is our most valuable on-farm resource, let’s show it a little love.

Download the Soil Sample Submission Form

Download the Soil Test Example Report