FAQ about Soil Testing

Why is soil testing important?

Soil testing is an important diagnostic tool to evaluate nutrient imbalances and understand plant growth. The most important reason to soil test is to have a basis for intelligent application of fertilizer and lime.Testing also allows for growers and homeowners to maintain a soil pH in the optimum range (6.0-7.0), which keeps nutrients more available to the plant. Additional reasons include protection of our environment - we cannot afford to pollute our surface and ground waters by indiscriminate application of phosphorous or nitrogen fertilizers - and cost savings - why apply what you don't need? Soil test results provide information about the soil's ability to supply nutrients to plants for adequate growth and are the basis of deciding how much lime and fertilizer are needed.

What is being tested in a soil sample?

The standard soil test includes determination of soil pH, available phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium levels as well as recommendations for lime and fertilizer. Other soil tests, such as ones for organic matter and zinc-manganese, are available for additional fees.

How do I know if the test results are accurate?

The lab takes various quality control measures to ensure the accuracy of results. Soil with predetermined nutrient levels is tested every 20 samples to provide an accuracy check.

Clermont Extension recommends testing soil every three years. If recent results are not consistent with past results, notify the ANR Educator within one month to rerun the questioned test.

Why doesn't the standard soil test include nitrogen analysis?

Soil nitrate levels are the best indicator of nitrogen availability.  Because these levels fluctuate widely depending on rainfall and soil temperature, the best time to take soil nitrate samples in while the crop is growing within two weeks of supplemental nitrogen applications. A soil sample taken months ahead of this time will not provide an accurate measure of the nitrogen available to the plants.

How does the lab make nitrogen recommendations?

Nitrogen recommendations are based on the past and present crops grown, plus the yield goal for the crop to be grown. Less nitrogen is recommended when the previous crop was a legume, because they add nitrogen to the soil.

When can I drop off a soil sample, and what is the cost?

The Extension Office accepts soil samples anytime during office hours (Monday - Friday, 8:00a.m. to 4:30p.m.). The Extension Office is located at 1000 Locust Street, Owensville, 45160 (the main entrance to the Clermont County Fairgrounds). Download driving directions here. Office staff will assist with your sample's paperwork and send your sample to be analyzed. The cost is $15 for the standard test, plus tax. The Extension Office accepts checks or cash only - no credit cards. Tax exemption is available for agricultural soil samples. Please bring your sample to the office in a disposable container (ziploc bag, plastic carry-out container, etc.)

How soon should I receive test results?

You should receive test results in approximately 10 business days. The analysis takes 3 to 5 working days from the time the lab receives the samples. The results are sent to the Extension Office. The ANR Educator will forward your results to you by your preference of e-mail or mail.


More Information on Soil Testing

Soil Testing Information
The Turf & Ornamental Soil Analysis is used for lawn, vegetable gardens, flower gardens, soil around trees and shrubs. The Soil Analysis is used for farms and large plots of land.

Directions on How to Take a Soil Sample
General rules for preparing your soil sample to bring it to the office

How to Read Lawn/Garden Soil Test Results

How to Read Agricultural Soil Test Results


Plant Samples and Testing

Do you have a plant you are having trouble identifying? Contact ANR Educator Gigi Neal at 513-732-7070 for assistance or e-mail her a picture and description of the plant.

Plant Analysis Information

Insect and Plant Identification Form