Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Learn how improving your soil can lead to a better looking lawn
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andy10917
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Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » August 26th, 2012, 11:07 am

Sampling for a soil test, presenting the results and getting through an Interpretation are steps that will get you off on the right foot to building a good plan for the soil and your lawn or garden. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you go through the process:

(1) Read "Soil Management Part 1" in the Articles area. This article lays out the groundwork (pun intended) to knowing what you are doing and why you are doing it.

(2) Make sure you sample correctly. Lots of samples from the areas that you care about makes for a better picture. If there are areas that are quite different, or you've been treating them differently, consider multiple tests. Sample the inch between 3" and 4" for lawns, no matter what your lab says. For gardens, sample at 6". We don't want to be interpreting your subsoil, and that can happen if you sample at 6" and your topsoil is 4", which is very common especially in new construction.

(3) Use a Lab we know. To you, all labs may seem the same, but their testing processes are very different. We can't know them all. Use Logan Labs (preferred because they have ALL the items we look for). Your local lab's test will get you a recommendation to retest. When we're busy, we will ignore postings with unknown tests, as we can do three poster's tests that I know in the time it takes to do one unknown lab's results.

A submission form for Logan Labs that is specific to BL/ATY users is at:

BL/ATY Logan Labs Submission Form

Note: if you are in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, the Austin, TX or the Twin Cities (MN) area, request "Ammonium Acetate extraction of cations" in your submission.

(4) Use a screen snipping tool to post the results, or convert it to a JPG and store it on a photo-sharing site (turn Family Safe on please). Manually-entered info often has omissions or errors. An entry error leads to bad interpretations - "garbage in, garbage out". Windows 7/10 has a great free snipping tool - use it. Other operating systems have tools either built-in or available as freeware - use them. If you post something that is manually-entered with multiple test result sets, it is very hard to read - and you'll be at the bottom of the heap of tests to be interpreted by the volunteers. Don't cry.

(5) Subscribe to your posting topic. This will get you notifications by email when there are questions. If you drive-by and post and don't visit BL/ATY for days on end, your posting is going to get buried in the traffic and you'll be forgotten as lots of new traffic comes in. Respond to questions in a reasonable timeframe before the Interpreter forgets what your scenario was all about.

If you do all of the above, your soil test will generally be reviewed and responded to within 24 hours (except in busy season), by one or more of the of the "official" interpreters (Andy, Barley, Mattya, HoosierLawnGnome). All of the people that are "official" have been through an "apprenticeship program" to make sure that the results are consistent from person to person - we each have our own approaches, but discuss differences in a non-public forum to make sure that you won't get conflicting advice.

(6) Give us background. Provide your square footage. We can't advise about how much of something to buy if we don't know whether you have 300 sq ft or soil or 3 acres. Also, tell us about your grass type, mowing and irrigation habits, chronic diseases in the grass, and your goals for the lawn/soil, Letting us know whether you prefer simple or "best" approaches helps a lot, although the amount of work increases with advanced approaches.

(7) Post soil results in the Soils Forum. If you bury your soil test in a general question on another topic, we may very well miss it. It is almost impossible these days to read every posting in every topic. Also, do NOT post the results as an additional post to last year's thread - that will cause us to miss your posting. If possible, add the year in the title, like "Bob's Soil Test Results - 2016".

(8) Put a Link to your soil test into the "Soil Test Interpretation Queue". That's the waiting line.

(9) Try to avoid PM's discussing your soil test. If everything isn't in one place (your thread), there is no way to go back and read the activity and history. Soil Test Interpreters get lots of PM's, and there is a limit to how many PM's are stored - then they are automatically thrown away.

(10) Most of the time, the Nitrogen component of a fertilization plan is left to the OP's discretion. There are too many options and every individual has their preferences and variations. As Nitrogen does not materially affect the soil chemistry, it is not specified. If you wish us to recommend a Nitrogen component in your plan, please request it.
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby ftwzorzoy » August 27th, 2012, 12:30 am

Thank you for providing instructions to those like me who have never posted in a forum. I appreciate the valuable information from this site. Thank you for all your time spent helping. You all are so kind.

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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby ez2luvlawn » June 26th, 2013, 7:20 am

I though it would be a good idea to keep this thread out in front of anyone who is considering sending in a soil test for analysis. It contains some very important and accurate information and I wanted to remind folks to read it before sending in a soil test from a local or off brand lab.

Use Logan Labs or Umass. Logan Labs is very cost effective and fast. The folks there are very professional and helpful to their customers and I have had nothing but great results and turn around time from them in the past. They always answer the phone and answer questions and that is hard to find at many labs around the country. I guess from my standpoint I like doing business with someone I can trust to be there and not just charge me a fee for numbers on a paper which I may not fully understand. Logan is a very professionally run soil lab and Umass is also a great University with skilled lab folks also.
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby Sixohh » July 11th, 2013, 12:13 pm

if you are ready to conduct a soil test is it a good idea to wait a while if you have laid down fert recently?

i figured this is a valid question since the granules might not be absorbed into the soil therefore affecting the results.... your thoughts?
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » July 11th, 2013, 12:16 pm

A general answer is "Yes - wait 4-6 weeks". A possible exception to that rule is if you JUST put it down today -- it wouldn't affect the testing depth (3"-4") yet...

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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » January 29th, 2014, 9:45 pm

The recommendations for soil test postings for 2014 have been updated (above).
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby Charley » April 10th, 2014, 9:45 pm

How is something designated "family friendly"?
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » April 10th, 2014, 10:10 pm

Many photo sharing sites place banners on the photos for free accounts. Some have an option to use "family-friendly" banners instead of racier banners.
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby fsl » May 8th, 2014, 5:38 pm

What's the policy about posting multiple test results done at the same time but on different parts of the lawn of the same user? Should one use one thread for each test, or use one thread for all tests? I see the Logan Labs put all tests in one page, but the UMass lab sends one email/file for each test.

Thanks!
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » May 8th, 2014, 5:42 pm

The policy is "there is no policy". Putting the tests in one thread allows us to make recommendations about whether you really need to be spending for multiple tests or not. That's what I'd do...
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby fsl » May 8th, 2014, 5:45 pm

Thanks! Then I'll stick to a "one post" policy :-)
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby OldGlory » May 28th, 2014, 6:21 am

Should I do the full test or the Basic?
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » May 28th, 2014, 7:28 am

The Standard Test is fine.
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby Mightyquinn » September 26th, 2014, 1:10 pm

Is the standard test $25 now? Didn't it use to be $20?
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » September 26th, 2014, 1:39 pm

Yup
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby Mightyquinn » September 26th, 2014, 2:01 pm

Thanks!!


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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby lacjr67 » October 29th, 2014, 2:47 pm

When getting soil samples do you put all samples together in one bag or separate bags?
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby Begotten » October 29th, 2014, 8:29 pm

lacjr67 wrote:When getting soil samples do you put all samples together in one bag or separate bags?

if you have samples you want tested separately for any reason, bag them separate. but you will be paying for multiple tests as well. otherwise combine them in one bag for one result.
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby lacjr67 » October 30th, 2014, 10:47 am

Thanks Begotten
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Re: Posting A Soil Test for Interpretation

Postby andy10917 » March 11th, 2016, 2:32 pm

The top section of this thread (mostly for newbies) has a couple of changes for 2016. They are:

(1) UMASS has been dropped from the labs we support. At the moment, I haven't added a replacement lab for UMASS yet. I was the last person doing UMASS tests and I have been threatening to drop them for four years. This means ST6 is only reading Logan Labs results until I can find the time to add another lab to the "new format" report. There are NO exceptions to the lab rule.

(2) I have added Austin, TX to the list of areas that should discuss an Ammonium Acetate test with me before sending in samples.

(3) I'm adding one personal bias. "Members" that make one or two postings a year, only for Soil Test Season, will be relegated to a lower priority on the waiting list in Busy Season. Beyond that, the First Come, First Served rule will remain in effect.

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