SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A person cannot tell whether a field, lawn or garden has too much phosphorus or too little organic matter simply by smelling and touching the soil.
However, if a sample of the soil is taken to a county University of Missouri Extension center, it can be tested to determine exactly what is needed to maximize the potential of the soil.
A soil test provides information on the nutrient levels (potassium, calcium or lime, and magnesium), percent of organic matter and lime requirements.
The MU Extension county office in Greene County provides soil testing services.
SOIL TEST FEEDBACK
Soil test customers in Greene County give high marks to the local service and the value of having the soil in their garden, lawn or field tested.
Customers during 2017 have had the option of answering a survey after getting their soil test results to qualify for a future free soil test.
From that survey we know 95.6 percent of customers say the soil test process (dropoff, payment, receiving results) is easy. Just over 99 percent say they found the staff to be helpful and professional. Test results and publications were easy to read and understand according to 98.2 percent of soil test customers. Almost 99 percent of customers say they would recommend the service to a friend, neighbor or family member.
Nearly half of those surveyed were able to give specific examples of how a soil test helped them. A majority of those say the test saved them money by helping them reduce the amount of fertilizer they applied. “A soil test takes the guess work out of it,” wrote one customer.
Statewide research shows that having the information provided by a soil test makes it possible to grow healthier plants for optimum health. A soil test protects the environment by helping avoid excessive fertilizer use and guard against nutrient loss in runoff. Doing a soil test can also save a person money since only the needed fertilizer will be purchased.
PAYMENT AND DELIVERY
A soil test at the Greene County MU Extension office costs $29.50 for the first test. Right now, individuals can get $2 off a test by submitting the name of a friend or neighbor they would like to have receive a postcard about soil testing services.
Payment for a soil test can be done online (http://extension.missouri.edu/greene) with a credit card or with check or cash when delivered to the Greene County Extension office at 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, Mo.
The office is open to accept soil and payment from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or it can be left with staff in the botanical center during building open hours.
HOW TO COLLECT SOIL
When taking a soil sample from the lawn, garden or field, use a clean spade and clean pail. Take soil from about six inches below the surface form five or six different locations in the lawn, garden or field. Mix the soil and deliver at least a pint of soil to your nearest extension center.
Getting results back takes from one to two weeks.
The soil test report provides information on soil test results and ratings, suggested fertilizer and limestone treatments for the lawn or field, and fertility management practices or concerns. Each soil test comes with recommendations made by a trained and experienced specialist.
Additional information, including a video on collecting soil, can be found on the Greene County Extension website at http://extension.missouri.edu/greene/soiltestcentral.aspx.
— David Burton, University of Missouri Extension
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