I got my soil test report and it really
surprised me. In fact can honestly say I was shocked. I expected some of the
results, but some of the rest of the report just really surprised me. Stick
around. I’ll tell you why and I’ll help you understand your own soil test report. Hi, I’m Gardener Scott and I discuss
everything gardening. Today it’s understanding a soil test report.
I think soil testing is very important for all gardeners who are serious about
gardening. I went years without getting soil test reports and did okay, but once
I realized that soil really is the key to success I decided to go ahead and
start getting my reports. And for my new garden that I’m in the process of
building it was even more important. Because I really wanted to understand
what I was working with. And then I was shocked by the results. Let’s go inside and talk about it. In an earlier video I discussed just exactly how to take soil samples and then send them to a laboratory for analysis. And you can
check out that video for the entire process and more about the reasons why. Well, now my test results have come back. And I have the report. I sent my soil to
Colorado State University… their soil, water and plant testing laboratory. And
this soil test report lays out some very good information for the basic gardener
and I’ll explain to you just exactly what all this information means. When you send your soil off for testing, don’t expect that your report will look
exactly like mine. All universities, all labs are going to do it a little
differently. Yours might have graphs with all of the different test results or it
might be just a big grid of information. Mine is two pages of words that explain
what the findings mean. Regardless of the style of the report, you can expect that all soil reports should include the same basic information. One of the most
important pieces of information, and really a primary reason for getting a
soil test, is to determine your soil pH. It’s important to know whether you have
acidic or alkaline soil. A 7.0 pH is neutral and this is where I received my shock because my pH is 6.7. One of the very first things I learned
in my Master Gardener training was that this region of Colorado has alkaline
soil and most of my gardening practices for years have been based on alkaline
soil. My last garden had it. Most of the people I know have alkaline soil. But
I’ve moved outside of town and my new garden isn’t alkaline. It’s very close to
neutral and very slightly acidic. I’m going to have to modify how I do things, not a lot, but it does make a difference. You can also expect to see an electrical
conductivity number on your report. It’ll often relate to the salts in your soil,
the salinity. It has to do with how well roots can take up the nutrients. And my
report spells it out very simply. My electrical conductivity is low and if
it’s less than 2.0, mine is 0.1, then salinity is not a problem. So in other words, I don’t have a problem with salt in my soil. I can see the lime is low. You’ll often add lime to sweeten the soil, in other words make it more alkaline. But because mine is very close to neutral. I don’t need to worry about lime being an issue. You can also expect that the report will tell you what type of soil you have. Is it primarily sand or is it primarily clay? That’s called the
texture. That’s also very important. Clay soil tends to hold on to water and it doesn’t drain very well. Sandy soil is just the opposite. The
water drains right through the sand. Well, I have a sandy loam soil. What that means is it’s more sand than clay and as this report shows I’m going to have a problem
with the water draining through. It’s going to drain at a medium to high rate, which means I may have to water more often. It’s not going to be held within the soil. Knowing how much organic material you have in your soil is critical. You should try to have at least five percent organic material. That’s ideal.
When I look at my report I see that I only have 1.7 percent. In other words I have to add organic material to my soil to get it to be the
best it can be for plants. This report is really nice because it does spell out exactly what I need to do. I’ve often recommended that you need to
apply two to three inches of compost to your soil if you’re trying to improve it. Well, this report from Colorado State University says that exact principle. You want to add organic material, compost is a great way to start. Your report will also tell you the nutrient levels in your soil. You can expect that all reports will give you the big three macronutrients: the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. I paid for a basic report so I’m not going to have a printout of
all of the micronutrients You might have that option and it’s totally up to you to determine just what your soil is filled with, as far as the nutrients are concerned. For me, the basics are enough. As I look at my nitrogen levels, the
nitrate, I see that it’s only 1.0 parts per million. That’s quite low. I expected that. Most gardens are low in nitrogen. It just means that I need to add those nitrogen sources to my garden. You can see that this report actually
tells me how I can do that. Exactly how much fertilizer to add. Not all reports will be this specific with the number and how to fix it. So I’m glad this is in easy to read language. I suspected that my new garden
soil wasn’t very good and this report continues to confirm that. The phosphorus is only 6.6 parts per million. It’s low. So I’ll need to add phosphorus
fertilizers or phosphorus sources. Potassium… well, that’s low too. 128.4 parts per million. Another fertilizer that I’ll have to consider. My zinc level is low, but my iron and my manganese is actually adequate. And my copper is adequate. Boron
is not something I normally think of, but my levels are high. As I look at the fertilizers I’ll be looking in the future, I don’t need to buy any that has iron, manganese, copper, or boron added. And that’s the end of my report. Now, with the cost of mailing my sample to the lab and the results, it cost me about forty to forty-five dollars. You can expect varying rates, depending on how much you want tested. I could have paid another ten or fifteen dollars to get some of
those additional nutrients. You might also want to check at your local Extension Office if you’re in the States. They might offer free shipping and maybe
even reduced rates for some of the testing. Either way this is the information you can expect to see, sometimes more, sometimes in a different format, but look for these important pieces of information. I really like the way that Colorado State University has given the information. Because in the text, where they tell me what to do, they’ve included a lot of organic methods. A way to improve my garden using organic material. The biggest thing that I can do to make my soil better, as I said before, is to add compost. Adding compost will improve some of the drainage issues that I have
because of my sandy soil. It will definitely improve the organic material within the soil to increase that percentage. And compost is loaded with nutrients, including some of that nitrogen and phosphorus and potassium
that I need to improve my soil. So I’m going to spend a few years working on that, getting better soil, and then I’ll do another test to see just how far I’ve
come and how far I still need to go. If you have any comments or questions about this report or if you have a report and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you,
well, then ask below and make a comment if you’ve had good reports and how you
were able to fix the soil in your garden. If you want to see more gardening videos
like this one, well, then subscribe to the Gardener Scott Channel and be sure to
click on the bell so you know when new videos are coming out every week. If you like this video, well, then hit the thumbs up, like it and share it. I’m Gardener Scott. Enjoy gardening.