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Soils - Part 9: Fundamentals of Soil Testing

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A Good Soil Sample is Important

The laboratory conducts its analysis of the soil on an extremely small sample of the target field. It is critical to the legitimacy of the process to have a representative sample. The top six to eight inches of soil in an acre weigh about two million pounds. Yet, the amount of soil from a soil sample which is analyzed in any laboratory weighs less than an ounce. Most soil samples are composites from 20 or more acres. Therefore, the guidelines suggested for proper sampling must be followed to obtain useful results.

The soil sample submitted to the laboratory must be representative. It must accurately represent the field or area sampled. Sampling is the weakest link in the soil testing chain and the greatest source of error. You can’t be too careful when collecting a soil sample. Consistency in sampling procedures must be followed so that the analytical results can be interpreted.

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