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Extension Notes: Soil testing

By: Rebecca Konopka
Carter County Extension Agent

Soil testing is a soil-management tool we use to determine the fertility of soil as well as the optimum lime and fertilizer requirements for crops. Fall is the best time of year to test your soil. Most nutrients take some time to break down and become available to the plant. If you give them all winter to break down, by the time you are ready to plant in the spring, the plants can better take up the nutrients.

All Kentucky county extension offices offer help with soil testing. Just bring a soil sample to your county extension office and they will send it to UK’s Division of Regulatory Services and within a couple of weeks you will have the results. The results can be used for everything you grow from hay, pastures, trees, flowers, fruits and vegetables.  Currently the Carter County Soil Conservation District has a grant that is paying for soil samples for Carter County residents.  

When taking a soil sample, remember plants have shallow roots that lie within the top 6 to12 inches of soil.   Soil should be collected from a 4 to 8-inch depth.   The Extension Office has probes that are available for checkout that can be used to collect the soil.  Walking in a zigzag pattern, collect several cores or samples across the area. In pasture/hayfield areas that are larger and have more variation, collect more cores.  Put the sample in a plastic bucket since a metal bucket may taint the results. You’ll need to bring approximately two cups of soil per sample to the Extension Office. When you bring the sample to the office, you’ll also need to provide us with some information about the site and crops you are growing.   Soil sampling will save you some money and it is good for the environment.

As a rule, you should test sandy-textured soils every 2-3 years and clay soils every 3-4 years. However, if problems occur during the growing season, send in a soil sample for analysis.

Contact the Carter County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service for more information on soil testing.  Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expressions, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Upcoming Events

  • The Grayson Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays from 9:00 AM until sell out.  The market is located in the shed behind the Extension Office.   The Olive Hill Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays and Wednesdays at 8:00 AM and Mondays at 3:00 PM until sell out each day. The Olive Hill market is located in the Save-a-Lot parking lot. 
  • Hay sampling is underway now for the East KY Hay Contest.   Call 474-6686 by September 19th to request sampling. 
  • Hike & Learn – Friday, September 16th @ 1:00 PM – Grayson Lake Spillway


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