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pH Soil Testing Offered to Clay County Residents

Free pH Soil Testing

After a hiatus, free soil pH testing to homeowners in Clay County will be offered starting in September, 2017.  This is key to determine what soil amendments may be needed in your lawn, landscape, or garden.

Taking a Sample

To take a soil sample at your home, divide your property into the areas you want to test by crop

A man taking a soil sample with an auger.  Source: UF/IFAS

or planting.  This can mean sending in multiple samples such as planting beds, vegetable garden, or St. Augustinegrass lawn.  In the divided areas, take about 12-15 samples in a random zig-zag pattern.  Samples can be taken by digging small, 6-inch deep holes and taking soil from a depth of 3 inches.  In you collection container, remove any plant material or debris and mix the soil together.  Allow this sample to dry before bringing it into our office.  In the end, around a pint of soil is needed and can be submitted in a paper or plastic bag.

Soils heavy in clay or potting media cannot be adequately tested by our equipment.  If you would like these tested or want information beyond soil pH, the University of Florida offers advanced soil testing.  Information can be found at: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/soil_testing.shtml.

Submitting a Sample

Once you have your sample(s), bring them to our UF/IFAS Clay County Extension Office located at 2463 State Road 16 West, Green Cove Springs, FL  32043.  Once here, you will need to fill out a submission form with your contact information, site characteristics, and type of plants for each sample.  We will then take the sample for testing and will contact you with the results.

Why Test for pH?

Soil pH is one of the key soil characteristics to understand as it measures how acidic or alkaline a soil is.  It is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, with 1 being the most acidic, 14 being the most alkaline/basic, and 7 being considered neutral.  May plants thrive in different pH levels such as Bahiagrass preferring a pH of 5.5 vs St. Augustine’s 6.5.  If your soil pH is not on target for your plants or crops, nutrients may be unavailable for plant use and the plants may not grow properly and yield can be reduced.

Following a pH test, soil can be amended to help correct issues.  If the soil is too acidic, lime is usually added to bring the pH up and if the soil is too alkaline, organic matter or sulfur may be used.  Do not add lime or sulfur to soil without having a pH test conducted first.

For more information, please visit: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ss480.