Divide fields to be sampled into production areas (of 10 acres or less) based on uniform soil type, fertilization and management history. Sandy or eroded areas, and problem areas of obviously different plant growth responses should also be sampled separately -- provided the area is sufficiently large enough to be treated differently with lime or fertilizer.
From your local county Extension office, obtain a soil sample box for each production area, and submit a Soil and Media Test Information Sheet,* for each ten production areas.
For each production area that you have identified:
  1. Collect a composite soil sample by moving through the area in a zig-zag pattern; sampling at a minimum of 20 locations. This sampling procedure should be random with respect to any existing cropping row. In continuous no-till production fields, be sure to vary distance from the row for each sub-sample collected. In continuous no-till fields or where fertilizer has been banded, increasing the number of sub-samples to 30 or 40 will increase precision of the results.

  2. Move surface litter aside. Each sub-sample should be obtained by using a soil tube, trowel or spade. For determination of plant nutrients, take soil samples to a depth of 6 inches. For organic matter determination, sample to the depth of 2 inches.

  3. Combine each sub-sample in a clean bucket as you move through the production area. Do not use a galvanized bucket if Zn is to be determined. Thoroughly mix the sub-samples into one composite sample. If the soil is exceptionally wet, you may have to let it air dry on a paper plate before it can be properly mixed (wet soil can also dramatically increase shipping costs and weaken shipping containers). DO NOT use heat to dry a soil sample as heat may change your results.

  4. From this composite sample remove enough soil (about a cup) to fill a soil sample box. Adequately mark the box to identify the selected production area location represented by that soil sample and keep this record in a safe place for later referral.

  5. For the PSNT soil test, sample to a depth of 12 inches when corn is 6 to 12 inches tall. Height should be measured from the ground to bottom of the whorl (4-6 fully mature leaves present).

  6. For container media analysis, medium should be sampled before posting by removing several portions from the mix and blending thoroughly. For established plantings, select 8 to 10 pots that are representative of the medium used. Scrape away the top one-fourth inch of each pot including slow-release fertilizer pellets and discard. Mix samples being careful not to crush any remaining fertilizer pellets. Completely fill two soil sample boxes for container media analysis.
Send soil sample(s), Soil and Media Information Sheet(s), and appropriate fees to the Soil, Plant and Pest Center (see address and fee information on the Soil and Media Information Sheet). Fees can also be paid by credit card using the secure UT Institute of Agriculture eMarketplace site. Click here to pay online.

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