Sunday, October 7, 2012

The importance of soil testing


Swift Horticultural Enterprises, LLC
Swift Horticultural Consulting

High Altitude Lavender
Curtis Swift, Ph.D.
450 Hill Avenue, Grand Junction, CO 81501


The importance of soil testing;

How to collect a sample, where to send it for analysis, and how to obtain a quality recommendation

Why is soil testing important?

·         To determine if the soil is appropriate for the trees, shrubs, flowers, herbs, lawn grasses, etc. you want to plant; not all soils can support healthy plant growth.
·         To learn what is needed to improve the health of those plants and reduce plant stress and reduce the potential for insect and disease problems.
·         To know what is needed to increase plant vigor, fruit, and flower production. 

A soil test provides the following:

·         What nutrients are deficient, the organic matter content, the pH and the soluble salt content.
·         What you need to add to the soil to correct deficiencies.

 You need the answers to the following items to realize the full potential of a soil test: 

·         Is this soil compatible with the plants you want to grow?
·         What nutrients are needed and when should they be applied and at what rate?
·         What nutrients should you avoid to prevent imbalances, excessive growth, root damage, etc.?
·         Are your plant problems the result of an improper fertilization program?
·         What nutrients are excessive and how can you avoid contributing to the problem?
·         Do you have a soluble salt problem and if so how can you correct it?
·         If the organic matter level of the soil is low how can you correct it without damaging established plants?  If this is a new planting what should you use and how much to improve the soil.
·         Is there a sodium problem and if so how do you correct it?
·         How can you enhance the growth and quality of the plants in this soil?


My job is to provide you the answers to the above questions.  My written recommendations will be specific to the plants you are growing or plan to grow in that soil. If you prefer the use of organic products in lieu of synthetic fertilizers I will provide you specifics on what products to use and how much of each is required for your plants and when they should be applied. 

Collecting a soil sample is simple. 

Shovel or trowel: Dig a hole in the area eight inches deep. Take a slice of soil off the side of the hole and throw it in a clean bucket, cardboard box, etc.  

Soil Auger or Probe: Twist/push the auger/probe into the soil to a depth of eight inches. Put the soil you collect in a clean pail, bag, or box.  

For more information on collecting a soil sample go to  Use clean tools to take samples.

 The soil testing laboratory needs about one pint of soil.  If the soil being tested is similar throughout the field or lawn take multiple samples from the area and mix them together for a composite sample.  If the soil appears or feels different in different parts of the field you should submit a separate sample for each soil type. If testing the soil around a tree, collect samples from the area half way between the trunk and the furthest reach of the branches and all the way around the circumference of the tree. 

 Air-dry the soil before sending it to the lab for analysis. Do NOT dry the sample on a newspaper or other surface where compounds can leach from the surface into the soil.  I use a plastic shoe box to dry the samples I mail to the lab. After the sample is dry, package it up in a plastic zip-lock bag. Keep the sample out of the sun after you have sealed the sample in the bag.

Where should you send your soil samples?

 I work with Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Kearney Nebraska (  Their analytical fees are reasonable and they are quick and accurate. Their S-4 Routine analysis provides the information I need to provide quality recommendations.   Use the sample submittal sheet at .  Make a note on the form to have them email the results to  Make sure your name, address, and email address is on the form. Please send me an email to let me know you have sent a sample to the lab so I will expect it.

 Mail the dried sample(s), sample sheet, and payment of $19.25 per sample to:

 Ward Laboratories, Inc.
4007 Cherry Ave., P.O. Box 788
Kearney, Nebraska 68848-0788 

When I receive the results from Ward Lab I will contact you to obtain further information to make my recommendations fit your situation correctly.  

 My Fee: 

My fee for providing recommendations and associated literature based on the soil test results is $30 per sample.  

If you live in the Grand Junction area and want me to pick up the sample(s) at your home or office, mail them to the lab, and provide you recommendations, my fee is $40 per sample.  Please contact me at 970.778.7866 if you prefer this option.     


  1. Hiii....
    I appreciate the ideas and this is very nice article and have great information.but Mistrask is also provides best soil testing.

  2. Spectro group offering Testing labs Services in India this providing testing lab for the all type product like, food testing, cailibration service, corrosion testing, metal tesing etc. because this company has a good and high qualified engineers whose give you excellent testing report for your product. If you all looking fro this type of testing service.spectro is the right choice.

  3. Many hazards are caused due to compressible and expansive soil. It often causes structures to heave, settle nad shift unevenly. Ascertaining soil strength, density, compaction and contamination are also vital at the stage of the construction process.

  4. We are providing the best NDT (Non- Destructive- Testing) Service in your cities of India. This company provides testing services for civil, structural evaluation both in our lab and as well as on site.

    Work from home theory is fast gaining popularity because of the freedom and flexibility that comes with it. Since one is not bound by fixed working hours, they can schedule their work at the time when they feel most productive and convenient to them. Women & Men benefit a lot from this concept of work since they can balance their home and work perfectly. People mostly find that in this situation, their productivity is higher and stress levels lower. Those who like isolation and a tranquil work environment also tend to prefer this way of working. Today, with the kind of communication networks available, millions of people worldwide are considering this option.

    Women & Men who want to be independent but cannot afford to leave their responsibilities at home aside will benefit a lot from this concept of work. It makes it easier to maintain a healthy balance between home and work. The family doesn't get neglected and you can get your work done too. You can thus effectively juggle home responsibilities with your career. Working from home is definitely a viable option but it also needs a lot of hard work and discipline. You have to make a time schedule for yourself and stick to it. There will be a time frame of course for any job you take up and you have to fulfill that project within that time frame.

    There are many things that can be done working from home. A few of them is listed below that will give you a general idea about the benefits of this concept.

    This is the most common and highly preferred job that Women & Men like doing. Since in today's competitive world both the parents have to work they need a secure place to leave behind their children who will take care of them and parents can also relax without being worried all the time. In this job you don't require any degree or qualifications. You only have to know how to take care of children. Parents are happy to pay handsome salary and you can also earn a lot without putting too much of an effort.

    For those who have a garden or an open space at your disposal and are also interested in gardening can go for this method of earning money. If given proper time and efforts nursery business can flourish very well and you will earn handsomely. But just as all jobs establishing it will be a bit difficult but the end results are outstanding.

    Freelance can be in different wings. Either you can be a freelance reporter or a freelance photographer. You can also do designing or be in the advertising field doing project on your own. Being independent and working independently will depend on your field of work and the availability of its worth in the market. If you like doing jewellery designing you can do that at home totally independently. You can also work on freelancing as a marketing executive working from home. Wanna know more, email us on and we will send you information on how you can actually work as a marketing freelancer.

    Internet related work
    This is a very vast field and here sky is the limit. All you need is a computer and Internet facility. Whatever field you are into work at home is perfect match in the software field. You can match your time according to your convenience and complete whatever projects you get. To learn more about how to work from home, contact us today on workfromhome.otr214423@gmail.comand our team will get you started on some excellent work from home projects.

    Diet food
    Since now a days Women & Men are more conscious of the food that they eat hence they prefer to have homemade low cal food and if you can start supplying low cal food to various offices then it will be a very good source of income and not too much of efforts. You can hire a few ladies who will help you out and this can be a good business.

    Thus think over this concept and go ahead.