Row by Row Episode 164: Soil Sample Basics
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Row by Row Episode 164: Soil Sample Basics

Row by Row Episode 164: Soil Sample Basics

Tonight Greg and special guest, Jeremy Kichler from the University of Georgia Corporative Extension discuss all the dirty details on soil sample basics. Jeremy is the Colquitt County agent and has been helping commercial farmers, gardeners, and new homeowners for 21 years with researched-based information.


Soil sample bags are available at most county extension offices. Soil samples routinely check the PH, Sulfur, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and so much more! If you are testing a large amount of area, you may need more than one soil sample if the soil has a lot of variation, you should take more than one sample.

Collecting Soil Sample

Most county extension offices will lend you a soil probe to collect your soil samples, you can also use a shovel. In gardening, get 6"-8" deep (around the root zone), for a lawn sample you want to go 4" deep and for orchards 8"-10". It all depends on what you are wanting to test and how deep-rooted it is. A good way to make sure you have a good test is to collect 10-12 samples throughout the area you are working with, mix them up in a "plastic" bucket (using a galvanized bucket will throw your zinc reading off), and then collect your sample with soil (fill to the line). It is very important to make sure all of your information is filled out on your soil sample bag. The typical basic soil sample costs $6.00 (USD) plus postage.

What do you get with a soil sample test?

Collecting a sample of soil is very beneficial, you receive a test of your soil levels of potassium, phosphorous, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, and most importantly soil PH. Greg recommends adjusting PH levels (if needed) with pelletized lime. Potassium and phosphorous are two of three major elements you need to have a successful garden. If you're wanting to have a good crop of corn, phosphorous is a key element, if you are too high in this element, you can use a fertilizer with lower phosphorus (15-0-15). Potassium helps with root development and the overall health of the plant; if your soil has too much potassium, it can be leached out with a big amount of rain.

Calcium and Magnesium are two of the most misunderstood elements in the soil for vegetable gardeners. Calcium is the element that helps build the cell thickness in certain plants, such as bell peppers, and prevents blossom end rot. If calcium and magnesium get out of balance with one another, they can compete with one another. If you need to add magnesium, you can use Magnesium Sulfate. Both of these elements have the same charge but will work against each other. Zinc is an important element when it comes to pecan orchards or cornfields. If you have high zinc index levels in your soil, the higher your PH levels need to be. Greg and Jeremy cannot stress the importance of knowing soil sample basics and getting a soil sample done before gardening.

Vegetable & Ornamental Weeder

Vegetable & Ornamental Weeder is a preemergence herbicide, with the main ingredient of Trifluralin. Trifluralin is a root inhibitor, if you already have weeds up in your garden, this product will not help you. You can use the Vegetable & Ornamental Weeder will work on crabgrass, pigweed, small seed grasses, and other broadleaf grass (does not work with nutgrass). Make sure your plants (such as pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, etc.) are around 5" in height before you use the weeder around your plants.

Products of the Week

Vegetable & Ornamental Weeder

Strawberry Plugs

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