By Adam Austing, University of Minnesota Extension
It is suggested that gardeners and farmers of all kinds get their soil tested at a minimum every few years. Why? Soil tests help find potential nutrient deficiencies and other issues in your soil. A test will also evaluate your soil’s pH and organic matter content. Every species of plants like different pH levels and amounts of nutrients to grow efficiently and stay healthy. A simple $17 test from University of Minnesota’s Soil Testing Laboratory will help you address future issues before they even occur. For more information on taking and sending in samples visit soiltest.cfans.umn.edu. One of the best times of the year to do soil sampling is right now!
To take a soil sample in your garden, start by scraping any grass and debris to expose a bare piece of ground. Dig up some soil, going about six inches into the ground. Place the soil in a bag or bucket and repeat the process 5-10 times. At the end, mix up all the soil you have collected and put two or three cups of your aggregated sample into a plastic bag. Once you have your sample, deliver or ship your sample and submission form to the lab by following the instructions on the website.
The University of Minnesota’s Plant Disease Clinic is also a great place to find answers to issues in your fields and backyards. Many plant diseases can look very similar and share symptomatology. Sometimes the only surefire way to differentiate between plant pests is by sending a sample to the Plant Disease Clinic. Prices for tests at the Clinic start at $45. To find out more and learn how to submit samples visit pdc.umn.edu/.
When collecting plant material to send to the Clinic, do not just collect the most affected part of the plant. Using different parts of the plant (leaves, stem, flowers) with differing levels of severity will be most effective at identifying the pest that is attacking your plants.
Wright County residents can also reach out to local Extension educator, Adam Austing, to find out more about these services at 763-682-7381 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you want a little more info on how to take a soil sample or help analyzing your test results? Are you wondering if your plant’s disease can be diagnosed without submitting a sample to the Plant Disease Clinic? These are just a couple examples of how your local Wright County Extension office can help you!