Areas cropped or fertilized differently or those with different soil types or textures should be sampled separately. For large areas, one soil sample should represent 10 acres or less. For home gardens, lawns, or ornamental beds, only one sample is required per uniform area.
Use a soil auger, spade, or shovel. Samples from cultivated areas should be taken from the surface to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Samples from pasture or turf should be taken only 2 to 4 inches deep.
Soil cores should be approximately the same size throughout their depth. No adjustments are needed if using a soil probe. To do this when using a spade or shovel, take a thin slice from the side of a V-shaped hole. Take sub-samples from at least 12 locations within the sample area.
Place the sub-samples in a clean plastic bucket and mix thoroughly.
Do not heat a moist soil sample to dry. Spread it out on newspaper and let air dry overnight. Crumble and mix before it hardens.
Label or number the soil bag. Fill bag to fill line (the equivalent of 1 - 2 cups). Do not use the same number for more than one sample.