Soil Testing

Reported by: Katherine Rowe
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Updated: 3/13 8:20 am
A and L Plains Agricultural Laboratories in Lubbock specializes in analyzing the components of soil and helps you fix any imbalances so that your plants can thrive.

Scot Coleman is the owner of A and L Labs said it's important to know what is in the soil so you can feed it, helping your plants can grow properly. 

When a soil sample is received, it is processed, dried and then pulverized.

"We call it 'grinding', but it's actually pulverizing," Coleman said. "We're not changing the make up of the soil. We're just breaking down the bigger chunks."

The soil is then analyzed, and if the customer requests recommendations for improving their soil, A and L Labs sends them a sheet that tells them what to add to the soil. Coleman said the soil in our area tends to lack nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.

If you are planning on planting, January through April is the best time to test your soil.

Taking a soil sample is easy, but the key is to take a representative sample of the area you plan to plant.

"In your yard, you want to go to four or five different spots," Coleman said. "You want to take off the top two inches. Set it aside, get you a little bit out of that hole, and then you can plug it up with what you took out. And we're using a plastic bucket. If you use metal, you can get some false readings on iron."

The same soil sampling methods should be used for larger growing areas, as well.

"Farmers, don't take it off the tractor tires," Coleman said. "Go out there and get between five and ten different spots. Get a good representative sample. You're going to go down anywhere from six to twelve inches down. In the yard, you want to go down about six to eight inches."

Soil isn't the only thing A and L Labs puts under the microscope. They also test water, plant tissue, fertilizer and manure.

For more on how to take a soil sample and the other services A and L Labs provides, click here.
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