Soil Testing

Every Field Science tailored mineral dressing is based on a detailed soil analysis of the land to be treated. It is vitally important that the soil sample is correctly obtained using the standard Field Science sampling protocol and that sufficient material is supplied to the laboratory.
The depth at which the samples are taken is approximately 5 – 15cm from the surface. This is because we are interested in the soil’s rootzone where the plant’s roots are concentrated and mineral uptake is at its optimum. There are areas of a field to avoid and these are covered in the protocol below.

The more time and effort expended on soil sampling, the more accurate the dressing will be and therefore the more effective.

The soil sampling protocols are different for pastures and crop fields. Generally with grass pastures it is possible to include more than one field in each sample. This is providing the fields are adjacent and are of a similar soil type. Call the fields by a group name such as EAST OF FARM, etc. and you should be able to include up to 50 acres per sample. If in doubt sample each field separately.

For crop fields it is also possible to include a number of fields in each sample providing it is a block cropped area and the fields have been treated the same and have a similar soil type. Again if in doubt test each field separately. Otherwise all crop fields are to be sampled separately.

Pasture Soil Sampling Protocol

Individual soil samples should be taken along a carefully thought-out route across the field or group of fields. The ‘W’ pattern sampling path is adaptable to most shapes of field.
Starting away from any gates, work across the field in a ‘W’ pattern, avoiding areas which are not representative of the field such as hedges, ditches, footpaths, fences, telegraph poles, sites of bonfires, fertiliser, lime, manure dumps or silage bales.

It is recommended to take several samples at regular intervals along the sampling path in each field to be tested. Do not skimp at this number. Ten samples are needed even from small areas.

At each of the sampling sites, cut a U shape in the turf. Then lift and fold back the flap. Take a trowel-full of the soil below (avoiding stones and worms) and place in your sampling bag. Once you have collected sufficient samples in the bag (the bag needs to be about ¾ full), seal it securely and write the name of the field on the right hand side of the top white area on the bag.

NB. It is easier to write on the bags when they are empty! So it is suggested to write the bags before you start. Use a biro or a permanent marker pen and please write clearly

Crop Soil Sampling Protocol

Crop soil samples should always be taken once the soil has been ploughed and the surface is ready for drilling / sowing etc. Always scrape off the immediate surface of the soil and avoid including this in the sample. Surface-applied fertilisers can skew the results.
Individual soil samples should be taken along a carefully thought-out route across the field or group of fields. The ‘W’ pattern sampling path is adaptable to most shapes of field.
Starting away from any gates, work across the field in a ‘W’ pattern, avoiding areas which are not representative of the field such as hedges, ditches, footpaths, fences, telegraph poles, sites of bonfires, fertiliser, lime or manure dumps.

It is recommended to take several samples at regular intervals along the sampling path in each field to be tested. Do not skimp at this number. Ten samples are needed even from small areas.

At each of the sampling sites take a trowel-full of the soil below the surface (avoiding stones and worms) and place in your sampling bag. Once you have collected sufficient samples in the bag (the bag needs to be about ¾ full), seal it securely and write the name of the field on the right hand side of the top white area on the bag.

NB. It is easier to write on the bags when they are empty! So it is suggested to write the bags before you start. Use a biro or a permanent marker pen and please write clearly

How to Complete a Sample Order Form

The order form should be completed as shown and the columns should be completed as below:

CROP please complete as silage, hay, barley, wheat, etc.

FIELD REFERENCE should be the name or number of the field or area tested.Ac/Ha tells us how large the field or area is – please remember to mark whether in Ac or Ha.

ANALYSIS REQUIRED tells the laboratory which tests are needed. For arable always AHS and for livestock (whether silage or pasture or fodder crops) always AHS +Se. This includes selenium in the analysis.

How to Complete a Sampling Bag


Please complete the bag as shown. The FIELD REFERENCE must be the same as used on the order form. The ORDER NUMBER is taken from the top right of the order form and the last digit corresponds with the line number on the order form (for example OATS from BLOCK 4 would be D65273/5).