Submitting a Sample

Prepare Samples for Shipment

If possible, spread wet samples in a thin layer on a clean surface and dry at room temperature. Do not use heat but a fan is acceptable to assist in drying. Remove large stones or sticks and break up large lumps or clods before mixing the sample thoroughly.

Complete the required information on the sample container and make sure that it matches the information on the sample submission form. Place about ¾ – 1 pint of the mixed sample in the sample container then close it securely.

  • Keep a record of all samples shipped including method and date of shipment. Dried ground samples will be stored at the lab for approximately 1 week to allow for additional test requests.
  • Maintain records of your soil test results to assist in monitoring changes in soil fertility over time. This may be useful to adjust soil management to meet crop demands without costly over or under application of nutrients.

Which form do I use? 

For assistance determining soil type, reference the Web Soil Survey.

Crop Codes

When you fill in the required information on your sample submission form you will be asked to provide a Crop Code. The Crop Code is a three-letter abbreviation provided on the back of the sample information sheets and on the attached Crop Code lists.

The Crop Code is used to generate crop specific nutrient guidelines. Please take time to review the crop codes provided and use the one that most closely matches the crop(s) that you plan to grow. Using the correct Crop Code will help ensure that you will get the nutrient guidelines that best match your crop needs.

Perennial crops like alfalfa or alfalfa grass mixes will have two crop codes, one for pre-plant samples and guidelines and a second code for established stands to generate nutrient guidelines for topdress or maintenance applications to established stands.

For example:

ALE is the correct pre-plant code for the perennial crop alfalfa. You would use this code for soil samples taken 6 months to a year before the crop is planted to allow adequate time for any applied limestone and fertilizer to react with the soil before the crop is planted.

ALT is the correct code for established stands of alfalfa. You would use this code for soil samples taken from an established stand of alfalfa to determine the amount of lime or fertilizer needed for maintenance/topdress applications.

Take care to provide the appropriate codes for the current year, year 2 and year 3 to avoid unlikely crop sequences. Prior crop history is used to provide comments relative to N requirements of the current and 2 future crops. You will receive nutrient guidelines for the current year and two following years if a valid crop code for all three years and all other required information is provided.

Some vegetable crop codes are different for homeowner samples than for commercial vegetable crop codes. For example:

MIX is the correct code for mixed vegetables for the V Commercial Vegetable input sheet. 

MVG is the correct code for mixed vegetables for the H Home Lawn & Garden input sheet.

For proper crop codes for form A, F, H, T & V please refer to Soil Laboratory Crop Codes.

For proper crop codes for form D please refer to Dairy One Crop Codes.