LSU AgCenter lab offers soil testing service for spring planting

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LSU AgCenter soil testing kits are available at a variety of locations around the state including parish extension offices and garden stores. Search at for soil test kits to find a location near you. The kits are free but you have to pay for the service. The instructions are inside the kit. Photo by Olivia McClure

Many people will head to their gardens this spring with hopes of growing beautiful flowers and a plentiful harvest of vegetables. But those hopes may be dashed if they aren’t familiar with the properties of their soil.

Testing soils can provide useful information on what nutrients are — or are not — present so any deficiencies can be addressed. The LSU AgCenter Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab can test soils, as well as plants and water, to help home gardeners and agriculture industry professionals alike achieve better results.

“Many people have soil samples tested only when plants are in trouble, but the time to test and amend your soil is before problems occur,” said AgCenter extension associate Sue Chin. “Soil testing will provide you with the information you need to treat your soil so your plants will flourish.”

Soil testing can be helpful to homeowners who are sodding lawns or adding new trees, flowers, shrubs and other plants. Landscapers, farmers, agriculture consultants and scientific researchers can also take advantage of the lab’s services.

It’s a good idea to take soil samples every two to three years because soil fertility conditions change, Chin said. And samples should be submitted several months before planting to ensure there is time to fertilize properly based on the lab’s recommendations.

Soil properties are often overlooked, Chin said, but can greatly affect plant performance. Azaleas, for example, do not grow well in basic soil, which means soil with a pH higher than 7.

“If your soil does not have sufficient nutrients, you will not be able to grow a robust garden,” she said.

The lab can also run samples of plant tissue and irrigation and pond water to determine nutrient content.

Soil testing kits are available at any LSU AgCenter parish extension office and numerous nurseries and hardware stores around Louisiana. People should send samples of soils that haven’t been amended with fertilizers or lime.

Testing fees will be assessed and vary depending on which tests are requested.

More information about the lab, including directions for collecting samples, is available on the AgCenter’s website by searching for “Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab” or by calling 225-578-1219.

3/28/2016 6:37:06 PM
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