COVID-19 UPDATE (7/15/20)
Rutgers Soil Testing Lab staff are at work, providing fee-for-service analysis of soil samples and generating reports/recommendations for all clients. Appropriate safety procedures and precautions are being followed to assure and protect the health of staff, including social distancing and use of personal protective equipment, sterilizing work surfaces and incoming packages, etc.
However, the Soil Testing Laboratory will remain closed to everyone other than staff until further notice; the building that houses the STL is not open to the public. Therefore all samples must be delivered by US Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, etc.
Because many county offices of Rutgers Cooperative Extension are also closed to the public, soil test kits may not be available for purchase locally. Use this alternative: How to get your soil tested, and find the appropriate Soil Sampling Instructions and Soil Test Questionnaire; headings describe different land use and "crop" scenarios. Read and follow the instructions; download and fill out the questionnaire; then send soil sample and questionnaire with payment to the lab.
Soil test reports are generated from the analytical data and include soil amendment recommendations; the reports are usually sent by email, with a copy sent also to the local County Cooperative Extension office for further consultation, if needed.
Soil testing kits may be purchased from your local county office of Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension. The purchase price of a soil testing kit includes the cost of the standard fertility test. Each kit includes an information sheet, a questionnaire, and a mailing bag/envelope. The information sheet provided with the soil testing kit describes proper sampling procedure. Please read and follow the directions carefully. For further information, refer to Rutgers Cooperative Extension publication FS797, Soil Testing for Home Lawns and Gardens.
The standard soil test determines the fertility level and pH of the sample.
In a standard soil test, the plant nutrients boron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc are quantified to determine their availability to the crop. The suitability of soil acidity is measured by pH. Fertilizer and liming requirements recommended by the Soil Testing Laboratory are based on soil nutrient levels, pH, and in some cases, crop management and site conditions.
Fertilizer recommendations include nitrogen requirements of your crop.
Nitrogen content is not part of the standard soil test. Inorganic nitrogen, which is the form of nitrogen that is available to plants, is short-lived in soil. Because of this, nitrogen recommendations are based primarily on seasonal crop requirements rather than on the actual nitrogen soil level. Be assured that the recommendations received with your soil test results will include the nitrogen requirements of your planting.
Additional tests, available upon request, assess other soil properties that are important for crop management. These tests include soluble salt levels, organic matter content, and soil texture.