A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH.
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. CCE Onondaga's Agriculture and Horticulture Programs can provide or arrange several different tests for your soil, and can help you to interpret the results and choose an appropriate course of action if necessary.

pH Testing

A pH test measures the acid/alkaline level of your soil. In 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 a soil is too alkaline or too acid, 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, we will let you know what amount of lime or sulfur is needed, if any.

Visit the Agro-One website for instructions on "How to take a soil sample" Soil test forms can be printed and boxes to mail soil samples in can be requested. Hard copies of forms and boxes are also available at our office, 100 S. Salina Street, Suite 170. 

Agro-One Soils Laboratory (800) 344-2697 x 2179

Nutrient Analysis

For assistance in interpreting your nutrient analysis results, please select to have a copy of the analysis results  sent to CCE Onondaga. Copies of the test results are returned to the individual and to CCE Onondaga about one week later, and you can contact us if necessary for assistance in interpreting your results.

Standard soil nutrient test are $12 and up/sample 

This test provides recommendations for 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 micro nutrients including organic matter. 

Download and print the FORM 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).

Mail form and samples to Agro-One Lab, located at 730 Warren Rd., Ithaca. Expect at least one week for test results to be returned.

Commercial Soil tests

As of August 2009, all commercial soil testing activities previously done by Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory (CNAL) were transferred to Agro-One, so that Cornell's testing program may focus on soil and plant research and the development of innovative analytical methods. The Cornell Lab tests are research oriented; interpretation of results is not provided. Call CCE Onondaga for assistance on reading soil analysis results. Please select this option in order to have a copy of your results sent to CCE Onondaga. 

Urban Soil tests

Download the following FORM and send in samples to address on form. 

Last updated April 11, 2016