Soil Sampling

Asked March 8, 2020, 11:31 AM EDT

Looking Into Starting a Chestnut Orchard Wheatland Township Mecosta County .Mi As A long term Cash Crop . 1st step is soil sampling to determine PH level of soil . Research notes requirement as, 5.5 to 6.5 ph Per research , to much higher or lower is just wasting time & money. Looking to plant August / September 2020 Lookin at 3 Fields At About 3acres a piece , Questions Best time to take Samples ? How many sample per Field ? Where to send samples? What are cost of sampling ?

Mecosta County Michigan

3 Responses

Hi There

A soil test provides you with valuable information on soil pH, texture and nutrient status. Chestnut trees require well drained soils and a pH of 4.5-6.5. Even though optimum nutrient levels for phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium are not known for chestnuts, a soil test can provide you with information to base your nutrient and lime addition decisions. MSU and a number of private labs offer soil testing. The main page for MSU testing can be found at
https://www.canr.msu.edu/spnl/tests-and-fees You can purchase MSU ag soil tests from your local Michigan county extension office and it includes sampling protocol with the test.

Soil testing is typically done during the season in response to observed issues or concerns and at least once in the fall when the crop is dormant to allow maximum time for amendments etc. That being said, you can sample for basic characteristics like pH any time the soil isn't frozen . If you were testing for biological activity etc, you'd want to wait until soil temps warm and plants begin to grow.

The basic sampling protocol is as follows but will vary based on the lab you choose:

  • Using a soil probe, spade, or trowel, and a clean plastic pail, sample in a zigzag fashion throughout a uniform area.
  • Take a representative sampling of the soil in the area you are testing, 15-20 subsamples.
  • Sampling depths are as follows:
    • Field Soils - 8 inches
    • Garden Soils - 6 to 8 inches
    • Lawn - 3 inches below turf
  • Combine all samples into the plastic pail and mix thoroughly. Fill a soil sample box with the sample, or package about a pint of soil.
  • Fill out an information form and send it in with the soil sample to the soil testing lab.

Thank you for the information....