Collecting and submitting soil samples

The soil sampling kit

The soil sampling kit provides all you need to submit your samples to our laboratory. The sampling kits are supplied free of charge and can be ordered online. Alternatively, the kits are available at NSW DPI district offices or by contacting Customer Service.

The kits are easy to use:

  1. Collect your soil sample and place in the container provided (see the detailed instructions below).
  2. Fill in the sample submission form (included with the kit) and tick the box for the tests that you require.
  3. Place the soil sample and the completed form in the reply paid mailing cylinder and post to the laboratory at Wollongbar.
  4. The results will be sent to you on the completion of testing, along with an invoice for the laboratory charges.

Tools required for sampling

  • Soil corer or spade
  • Buckets
  • New plastic bag or sample container (supplied in soil kit)
  • Labels if more than one sample is collected
  • Record sheet to record sample site and sample.

Remember a soil test is only as good as the care taken in sampling. Tools and equipment should be clean prior to sampling.

Taking a soil sample

soil core collection methods

Look at the soils in the area you intend to sample. Submit a separate soil sample from each soil type (e.g. clay, loam or sand) and from paddocks that have been managed differently, because these factors affect fertiliser needs.

For each sample, thoroughly mix a minimum of 20 soil cores (see following paragraph) in one bucket (the more cores taken the more reliable the sample). Fill the container supplied in the kit with the sample from the bucket. If you have collected multiple samples you can submit your samples in 500 gram bags to the laboratory. Make sure samples are clearly labelled.

Soil cores should be collected at 0-10 cm depth. Avoid collecting the surface material such as leaf or organic matter. Deeper cores may need to be taken for the investigation of subsurface acidity and salinity or for larger horticultural crops (please contact your advisor for this advice).

Once the samples have been collected they should be sent as soon as possible to the laboratory for analysis.

A map and written plan of the soil sampling area is essential for interpreting results and any subsequent testing. It is recommended that soil cores be collected along a fixed transect (e.g. 1 and 2). This method allows for re-testing and better monitoring of changes in fertility than random sampling. In areas where tree crops are planted samples should be collected along rows.

To obtain representative samples, do not sample from unusual sites such as:

  • stock camps
  • manure patches
  • gateways
  • dams or water troughs
  • feedout areas
  • old fertiliser stockpiles
  • paddocks that have had fertiliser applied in the last 3 months