Commissioner Steve Troxler: Get Your Soil Tested!

It’s the time of year when a lot of people are getting out working in their yards. The NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division can help homeowners improve their yards and gardens with science-based recommendations. It’s a great time to take soil samples and get suggestions on the best growing practices.


  • Yesterday was Earth Day, which makes it a good time to talk about best growing practices for yards and gardens and how our Agronomic Services Division can help homeowners improve their yards.
  • Many folks are beginning to get in their yards and work on them or their gardens. Taking a soil sample is easy to do. You just want to make sure you take enough of a sample so the lab has enough material to analyze.
  • Some listeners may already be familiar with soil testing. By taking soil samples from a field, yard or garden and sending them to our Agronomic Services lab, we can analyze the samples and offer recommendations to help improve growth.


  • This is good for the environment because all recommendations are science-based and you will be advised to add only the nutrients you need to maximize growth. That cuts down on excess nutrients in the environment.


  • Our peak season period ended in March, so soil testing is free now for residents and there is a short turnaround time to get your results.


  • You can pick up a sample box at the Agronomic Lab on Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh, or you can get them at your local cooperative extension office. Fill the box to the red fill-line noted on the side. This will ensure your sample is large enough.


  • For your yard, you will want to take a number of samples across the area and mix the dirt from each sample together. You should sample in the front and back yard. This gives a better representation of the whole yard rather than just one area of the yard. When you submit the sample, you will also want to note if your grass is centipede. The recommendations for centipede are different than other grass types.
  • You will also want to note if your sample is for a vegetable garden. That will help ensure the proper recommendations.
  • You will find information on taking samples on the form that should be submitted with your sample. You can also check out our how-to video on soil sampling on Youtube at NCAgriculture.