Master Gardener volunteer conducts a pH soil test on a soil sample
Image by Sandy Repp

A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH.

Soil Testing Services

Why Test Soil?

A soil test will tell you what nutrients are in your soil and what you may need to add (in the form of fertilizer) for successful crop growth. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium (macronutrients) as well as micronutrients to grow. Deficiency or excess of these elements will impact the health and productivity of plants. In addition, the pH (acid/alkaline level) of your soil has an impact upon how much of your soil's nutrients your plants will be able to use.

pH Testing

A pH test measures the acid/alkaline level of your soil. On the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral; lower numbers indicate acid soil, while higher numbers indicate that the soil is alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH of 6.8. pH levels influence nutrient availability, with most nutrients being available to plants when the pH is in this range (6.8-7.0). If soil is too alkaline or too acidic, certain nutrients may be limited. To change soil pH to the desirable range, you will either add lime if the soil is too acid or sulfur if the soil is too alkaline. With your pH test result, the amount of lime or sulfur to add can be determined if any.

Call or email theĀ Growline for help assessing your results.

Dairy One Laboratory (607) 375-9962 or (800) 344-2697 (ask for soil lab customer service)

Standard soil nutrient test $13/sample
This test provides recommendations for the establishment and maintenance of home lawns and gardens, commercial turf, commercial vegetables, commercial fruit, and field crops (pasture, hay, annual crops). Measures pH (in water), phosphorous, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and micronutrients including organic matter. Samples should be delivered to the Dairy One Co-Op Inc, located at 730 Warren Rd., Ithaca. Expect at least one week for test results to be returned.

Download and print the appropriate FORM from the Dairy One website to include with your soil test samples. (NOTE: when you visit the above link, you will see a list of different forms. For testing home garden soils, download, and print Submittal Form H for Lawn, Garden, and Landscapes and Form H2 if you are submitting multiple samples.) For assistance on downloading and filling out forms, contact GrowLine.

Additional tests (available through Dairy One)

  • Soluble SaltsĀ 
  • No-till pH
  • Nitrate
  • Boron

Last updated November 15, 2022