Don’t guess … soil test

By: Nancy Olsen - Bladen County Extension Office

Plants can produce their own food, but require a fertile soil or growth media to supply needed nutrients. Healthy, well-fed plants are better able to withstand diseases and insects and to compete with weeds. A FREE chemical soil analysis can check your soil’s fertility and determine if any corrective action is needed.

A soil test is the best tool available for determining the lime and fertilizer needed for the best economic and environmental production of crops, gardens, and more healthy beautiful lawns. Testing the soil takes out the guesswork and prevents you from under or over liming and fertilizing, either of which will cost you both dollars and plant growth.

You can take a soil sample any time of the year, however, it’s best not to sample when the soil is extremely wet. The summer months are probably the best, because the summer just happens to be the slow months for NCDA (where soil, waste, tissue, nematodes samples are tested in Raleigh) so sample results return much faster. When results return in the late summer and fall, it does not always mean it is the correct time to lime and fertilize.

From Nov. 26 to March 31 all soil samples will be charged $4 each to be tested. For complete information please contact me, your Horticulture Extension agent, at 910-862-4591. In the past year Bladen County has sent in 3211 samples with 489 being from farms. With 33,742 (2016) folks in the county that number is quite small. We must get the word out; Don’t Guess –Soil Test. There is no reason to waste time and money fertilizing, call me, I’ll be glad to give you NC State researched based information. Get those samples in NOW!

Sampling instructions and soil sample boxes are available from the Bladen County Cooperative Extension office. They may be picked up and returned Monday—Friday, 8:30 am—5:00 pm. The Extension office sends samples off every two weeks to the NCDA Soil Testing Lab or when someone is going to Raleigh.

Laboratory results will be emailed directly back to you and a copy is available to the Extension agent via computer so help can be provided if needed. Since soil is a complex ecosystem, you can turn to your Extension agent to answer your questions and provide additional Extension publications and leaflets.

Nancy Olsen is a Bladen County Extension Office agent. She can be reached at 910-862-4591 or

Nancy Olsen

Bladen County Extension Office