Master Gardener volunteer conducts a pH soil test on a soil sample
Image by Sandy Repp

A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH

Soil Testing Services


Why Test Soil?

A soil test will tell you what nutrients are in your soil and what you may need to add (in the form of fertilizer) for successful crop growth. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (macronutrients) as will as micronutrients to grow. Deficiency or excess of these elements will impact the health and productivity of plants. In addition, the pH (acid/alkaline level) of your soil has an impact upon how much of your soil's nutrients your plants will be able to use. CCE-Ontario staff can provide or arrange several different tests for your soil, and can help you to interpret the results and choose an appropriate course of action if necessary.

pH Testing

A pH test measures the acid/alkaline level of your soil. In the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral; lower numbers indicate acid soil, while higher numbers indicate that the soil is alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH of 6.8. pH levels influence nutrient availability, with most nutrients being available to plants when the pH is in this range (6.8-7.0). If a soil is too alkaline or too acid, certain nutrients may be limited. To change soil pH to the desirable range, you will either add lime if the soil is too acid or sulfur if the soil is too alkaline. With your pH test result, we will let you know what amount of lime or sulfur is needed if any.

CCE-Ontario Agriculture Office will perform a pH test on soil samples that are brought to our office at 480 North Main Street, Canandaigua for no charge.

We also sell Cornell pH Test Kits. When properly used, the pH can be determined to approximately +0.1 pH unit. This is adequate for most situations. Note: the pH kit cannot be used accurately by a color blind person. We offer the following kits:

  • Standard Range Kit (5.0-7.2), $18/box 
  • Wide Range Kit (3.8-8.2), $36/box 
  • pH solution bottle refills, $4/bottle

Nutrient Analysis

Home garden soil samples Form H (flower and vegetable gardens fruit plantings, lawns, trees and shrubs) for nutrient analysis are sent to Agro-One Soils Lab in Ithaca NY. Expect at least one week for text results to be returned.

The standard nutrient test is $13 per sample. This test measures pH, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium ,micro nutrients and organic matter. Based on the soil test results a fertilizer and soil pH recommendation will be provided for either the establishment or maintenance of the plant/crop being grown. If you have any questions about the results please contact us at 585-394-3977 x 436 or email Russ.

Soil sample boxes and forms are available at our office, 480 North Main St. Canandaigua NY or by contacting the Agri-One Soils Lab directly at 607-375-9962.

Nutrient Management Fact Sheets

The following nutrient management fact sheets will accompany your soil test analysis report when you select a specific crop code.

EXAMPLE of the soil test report format

Lawns (LAW)
Getting the most out of your lawn soil test report
Getting the most out of soil test report for lawn establishment

Mixed Vegetable Garden (MVG)
Getting the Most out of Your Vegetable Garden Soil Test Report

Blueberry (BLB)
Getting the Most out of Your Blueberry Soil Test Report

Raspberry (RSP)
Getting the Most out of Your Raspberry Soil Test Report

Strawberry (STR)
Getting the Most out of Your Strawberry Soil Test Report

Grapes (GRA)
Getting the Most out of Your Grape Soil Test Report

Fruit Trees (TRF)
Getting the Most out of Your Fruit Tree Soil Test Report

Excessive Soluble Salts
Soluble Salts in Soils and Plant Health

Soil Testing for (some) Contaminants
If you need to see if your soil has heavy metals or need a custom analysis, this can be done through the 
Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory (CNAL).


Contact

Russell Welser
Senior Resource Educator
rw43@cornell.edu
(585) 394-3977 x 436

Last updated April 6, 2020