Annual Free Soil Testing and Delivery Ends 11/20/18

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Free Soil Testing April – November

Image of soil testing kit

Soil testing is the only accurate way to know if you should add lime or nutrients to your lawn or garden.

Master Gardener℠ volunteers of Chatham County encourage  Chatham County residents and gardeners to have their soil tested 2-3 months before installing new plantings, and every 3-4 years for established lawns and gardens. Learn about the benefits of soil testing.

Between April and November, county residents can drop off completed soil samples to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center, located in the west end of the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center, 1192 US 64 W Business, Pittsboro. Find us on Google Maps.

Samples can be dropped off during office hours, Mon – Fri, 8 a.m.–5 p.m., or after hours by placing them in the Soil Test Drop Off box located by the west side entrance of the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center.

Drop off box

Between April – November, the after hours soil test drop off box is located at the west side entrance of the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center.

Samples will be delivered to the soil test lab operated by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Agronomic Services Division, in Raleigh, at no charge, on the following schedule:

  • Samples will be delivered at the end of each month, typically on the last Friday of the month.
  • Samples dropped off earlier in the month will be held for the end of the month delivery.
  • The last delivery in a year will be made on or before November 20, 2018.
  • Samples dropped off after November 20 will be held for April delivery.

There is no charge for soil testing most of the year. Between April 1 and November 30, NCDA&CS Agronomic Services processes soil samples at no charge for NC residents. During the peak season, December 1 – March 31, there is a $4 per sample fee. We do NOT deliver samples during the peak season.

Individuals can expect to receive their results by email, typically two to three weeks after samples are delivered. You will receive an email confirming your samples have been delivered and letting you know when you should expect your results. Results are also posted online on the Agronomic Services Division’s PALS website.

To collect and submit samples, you will need:

These supplies are available from every county Extension center. Find your local center.

Tips for collecting good samples:

  • Sample lawn and garden areas every 2-3 years for sandy soils, every 3 – 4 years for clay soils
  • Sample each unique area separately
  • Collect 10-12 random samples from each unique area and blend them together to fill one box
  • Take samples 4” deep for lawns, 4-6” for gardens
  • If the soil is wet, allow it to dry before putting in boxes — do not put a plastic bag inside the soil sample box
  • Fill boxes to the red fill line
  • Do not tape boxes shut

More lawn and garden soil testing tips from the Agronomic Services Division.

Drop off completed samples at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center by the last Friday of the month. Be sure to include a completed Lawn and Garden Soil Sample Information Sheet with your samples.

Tips for filling in the Lawn and Garden Soil Sample Information Sheet:

  • Enter up to six samples (boxes) on one form.
  • You make up the sample ID—this can be letters or numbers and should be something easy for you to remember.
  • Select the planting code from page 2 that is the best match for what you are growing.
  • Enter your contact information clearly—especially your email address!

When complete, your results will be sent to you by email (look for a message from AGRONOMIC LIMS), as well as posted online.

For help reading the soil test results, see this one-page guide or contact your local N.C. Cooperative Extension center. A detailed publication on the soil test report is available.

Learn more about soil testing in North Carolina.

If you have questions about soil sampling or gardening, you can speak to a Master Gardener volunteer of Chatham County during plant clinic hours.

To contact a Master Gardener volunteer:

  • Visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center during plant clinic hours
  • Call 919-545-2715
  • Email chathamemgv@gmail.com