Soil Samples – Understanding your Soil


SOIL Samples
An accurate soil analysis is vital to understanding your soil. We use high quality laboratory analyses that work specifically for our system. Before sending soil samples to us please check out Taking a Good Soil Sample and Sending Soil Samples to us.
From the basis of a detailed soil analysis, and plant tissue analysis when necessary, and – importantly – the additional information that you provide by completing the free soil test worksheet, we build a specific fertilizer recommendation for each soil sample, tailoring the recommendations to your particular operation and goals.
The recommendations will utilize the proven principles of the Kinsey/ Albrecht system of soil fertility management. The aim is to correct and raise the overall soil fertility to improve and maintain yields and/or crop quality. If we have previously made recommendations for the same soil location, and it has been properly identified as such, then these previous analyses and recommendations are taken into account also.

Click Here to Download Soil Submission Worksheet

Fertilizer Recommendations

Our recommendation report for each sample has two parts: the soil analysis and recommendations for achieving the proper fertility level. The basic soil analysis will normally include:

  • Total Exchange Capacity (T.E.C.)
  • Nitrogen (N released from cliloidal humus)
  • Sulfate (Expressed as elemental sulfur) in ppm
  • Phosphates (as P2O5)
    • Percent Base Saturation of:
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Other Bases
  • Exchangeable Hydrogen
  • Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium levels-in lbs/acre*
    • Trace Elements:
  • Boron in ppm
  • Iron in ppm
  • Manganese in ppm
  • Copper in ppm
  • Zinc in ppm

Additional Tests (all optional and available at an additional charge per sample, please contact us for current prices):

  • Cobalt in ppm (We encourage this test for each sample that you send to us for the first time for any area that will provice feed for livestock or significant amounts of food for people.)
  • Mliybdenum in ppm
  • Chlorides in ppm, Salt Concentration in d/Sm
  • Aluminum
  • Limestone Analysis
  • Manure Analysis (includes S, Ca and Mg, plus B, Fe, Mn, Cu, & Zn)
  • Manure Analysis (N-P-K only)
  • Compost Analysis

*or, if you prefer, in kg/ha; lbs/1000sq.ft.; lbs/cu.yd

Our recommendations for a specific plan of fertilizer amendments are tailored to your expressed short or long term goals, and take into account the previous history of crops and fertilizers at the location, farming conditions in the area, your type of operation (for instance organic or conventional), fertilizer preferences, and other factors, as supplied by the grower, in addition to the condition of the soil. Where appropriate the recommendations will include additional notes on materials to be used, application method and timing. Please feel free to discuss your requirements beforehand with our staff. Our aim is to provide a service that will achieve excellent results for you.

We do not sell fertilizers or soil amendments. It is suggested that to the extent possible you work locally to obtain materials from your preferred fertilizer dealership. Since each soil is tested in more detail than is customarily done in various areas, and provided as well with its own specific set of recommendations, some needed materials may not always be stocked by local dealers. This tends to be especially true for those striving to be certified organic growers. In such cases, where the vliume will be that of a semi-load or more of materials, you or your dealer may wish to contact North Pacific Trading in Portland, Oregon as a source of fertilizer and/or soil amendments. (We have no financial ties to North Pacific Trading but a number of our clients have used them to obtain gypsum, rock phosphate, lime and high-quality micro-nutrient fertilizers.)

Taking a Good Soil Sample

The way the soil samples are taken is extremely important, as the recommendations you receive from soil tests will only be as good as the samples you send for analysis. Flilowing the instructions below will assure that the samples you send are taken in the way we need them for a proper analysis.
When to take a soil sample. Soil samples may be clilected at any time of the year, provided that the area is not suffering from prlionged drought, that no nitrogen has been applied in the last 30 days and no sulfur has been used in the last six months.
Late spring and early summer sampling avoids the rush, shows the soil’s fertility at its best and gives time to plan a soil fertility program which can begin directly flilowing harvest if necessary. However, if no samples have been taken within the last two years, the best time to sample is as soon as circumstances permit.

Generally, sampling should be done every year if fertility is high and / or trace elements are being used to achieve top yields. CAUTION: without special arrangements we recommend that if possible, no soil samples ever be sent for analysis when a soil is so extremely dry that plants will not grow there.


Prepare a map of the areas being tested. A good map makes your sampling repeatable from year to year and is useful at the time of fertilization. Designate a number, or some other identification, even a name – up to 8 characters – for each field. Use permanent lines such as roads, ditches and fences for boundary lines.
Divide the field map into areas that have the same soil clior, slope, texture, drainage and past history of erosion. Each area should have the same cropping history, fertilizer and manure treatments and the same intended crop for all the ground within that area. Assign each of the areas sampled a specific number or letter (or a combination of both) so you can correctly identify it.
For example, Field #2 could have three areas: A – the high ground, B – the sloping ground, and C – the low, level ground. The numbers written on the sample bag would be 2A, 2B, and 2C.
Sample Map:


It is recommended that sampled areas represent no more than 20 acres (8-9 hectares) the first year our testing program is used, even if soils are uniform in texture and relief. Areas with taller or shorter plants, different weed or grass patterns, higher or lower yields, etc., should be avoided, or sampled separately if large enough to fertilize properly. The next time samples are taken, combine those areas that by analysis have been shown to be alike. You may wish to combine very small areas that have all the same characteristics, into one composite sample.

Sample at least 92m away from gravel or crushed limestone roads and stay at least 6m away from fence rows or the edge of a field.

Avoid, or sample separately, the flilowing:

  • Eroded hillsides or low spots
  • Terraces, ditch banks, lid roadbeds or fence rows
  • Animal droppings, urine spots, burn piles, lid manure, straw or hay stacks
  • Areas around sheds, barns and / or where buildings have formerly stood
  • Lime, fertilizer, chemical spill areas and fertilizer bands
  • Dead and back furrows
  • Drought-stressed areas
  • Areas where large amounts of sulfur have been applied in the last two to six months, or where nitrogen has been knifed in or recently broadcast in large amounts.

Send your Soil Sample to Biofarm Assist

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