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Sample collection

For printable sample collection guidelines please follow this link: Cornell Soil Health Test Sampling Protocols 7-1-16

Please follow this link for a video showing our preferred sampling techniques:

Not sure how to best take a soil sample for submission to the Cornell Soil Health Lab? Here’s how! To jump to a specific sampling topic, use the time links below

– The sampling strategy: 0:00
– Taking the soil sample: 1:18
– Penetrometer readings: 3:49
– Preparing your sample: 5:12
– Shipping your sample: 7:37

Beginning June 1st 2016 each individual sample needs to be double bagged prior to packaging and shipping. Packing material such as crumpled paper or bubble wrap must be placed in the box with the samples to prevent sample movement and spillage during shipping. For more details on proper packaging and shipping instructions, please visit the ‘Testing Services’ tab on our website.

For a more complete description of sampling guidelines, including how to choose representative sub-sample locations see the soil sampling protocol section of the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health – The Cornell Framework Manual.

Quick guide to taking a soil sample for the Cornell Soil Health Laboratory:

Identify 10 locations within the area you would like to test that are representative of the field or plot.

A – Remove surface debris.

soil sampling how-to

B– Use a spade to dig a small hole about 8” deep. From the side of the hole take a vertical slice of soil 6” deep and about 2” thick. Collect the same amount of soil from all soil depths so the sample is not biased with more soil from the top compared to the bottom.

soil sampling how-to

C1 and C2 – Manually remove any extra soil to ensure an even 6” x 2” slice of soil. Place into clean pail.

soil sampling how-to

soil sampling how-to

D At each sub-sample location collect soil hardness information with a penetrometer. Record maximum hardness from the 0-6” and the 6-18” depth on the Submission Form.

soil sampling how-to

ERepeat steps A – C to collect the remainder of the sub-samples. Mix thoroughly and place 3-6 full cups of soil (one quart) into a clearly labeled Ziploc bag. Keep cool. Submit soil sample and submission form promptly.



When can I expect my results? Please expect an email with your results in 6-8 weeks.

Can you rush results? No, in order to ensure our results go out in our 6-8 week window, samples are processed in the order that they are received.

Is there a discount for Cornell, researchers or large sample volumes? Due to our not-for-profit status we are unable to offer discounts.

How do I pay? You will be contacted just after receiving results with a link to a secure pay-portal. This will enable you to pay by credit card if you did not enclose a check with your sample submission. Checks can be made out to Cornell University.

How do I know that my samples arrived safely? You will receive an automatic confirmation that we received your samples. Note the automatic emails go out once per week, if you require immediate confirmation, we recommend tracking your package.

How much soil should I send? You can find details on how much soil is required for our packages and individual analyses here

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