Soil Testing

Soil testing is most crucial thing in agribusiness. If you are a grower, agronomist, plant pathologist, plant nutrition expert, consultant and connected in any capacity to agribusiness, first thing to start with is Soil Analysis. This will help you to understand as what is status of natural minerals available in the land on which we are planning to work or working already. Soil test helps growers to minimise cost of production , saves land degradation, saves crops, improve crop health, shine, color and growth.We have travelled far off areas for taking soil samples and have analysed that crops are getting worse effect due to over utilisation of nutrition, chemical spray and poor management of farms rather nutrition deficiencies. So in order to save money, your soil plants / crops it is better to conduct a soil test every year.

Soil Testing Need

  1. To avoid indiscriminate use of fertilizer and to ensure environmental safety.
  2. When crops are harvested, a considerable amount of nutrients are removed from the soil system. Only a part of it is replaced in the form of manures from crop residues. This practice renders the soil infertile over a long period of time.
  3. Leaching, erosion, volatilization etc. removes some more nutrients from soil.
  4. Restoration of soil fertility is a key factor for crop productivity , profitability and sustainability.
  5. Manuring and fertilization is essential to maintain a healthy and productive soil.
  6. Fertilization programme must consider crop needs, soil supply, fertilizer use efficiency, contribution from manures etc.
  7. Time to time evaluation of the inherent soil fertility status is essential for arriving at crop and site specific balanced fertilization program to sustain productivity.

Soil Sampling Procedure

Soil testing is an essential component of soil resource management. Each sample collected must be a true representative of the area being sampled. Utility of the results obtained from the laboratory analysis depends on the sampling precision. Hence, collection of large number of samples is advisable so that sample of desired size can be obtained by sub-sampling. In general, sampling is done at the rate of one sample for every two hectare area. However, at-least one sample should be collected for a maximum area of five hectares. For soil survey work, samples are collected from a soil profile representative to the soil of the surrounding area.

Materials Required

1. Spade or auger (screw or tube or post hole type)
2. Khurpi  
3. Core sampler 
4. Sampling bags
5. Plastic tray or bucket

Points to be Considered

  1. Collect the soil sample during fallow period.
  2. In the standing crop, collect samples between rows.
  3. Sampling at several locations in a zig-zag pattern ensures homogeneity.
  4. Fields, which are similar in appearance, production and past-management practices, can be grouped into a single sampling unit.
  5. Collect separate samples from fields that differ in colour, slope, drainage, past management practices like liming, gypsum application, fertilization, cropping system etc.
  6. Avoid sampling in dead furrows, wet spots, areas near main bund, trees, manure heaps and irrigation channels.
  7. For shallow rooted crops, collect samples up to 15 cm depth. For deep rooted crops, collect samples up to 30 cm depth. For tree crops, collect profile samples.
  8. Always collect the soil sample in presence of the farm owner who knows the farm better


  1. Divide the field into different homogenous units based on the visual observation and farmer’s experience.
  2. Remove the surface litter at the sampling spot.
  3. Drive the auger to a plough depth of 15 cm and draw the soil sample.
  4. Collect at least 10 to 15 samples from each sampling unit and place in a bucket or tray.
  5. If auger is not available, make a ‘V’ shaped cut to a depth of 15 cm in the sampling spot using spade.
  6. Remove thick slices of soil from top to bottom of exposed face of the ‘V’ shaped cut and place in a clean container.

Guidelines For Sampling Depth

Crop Soil sampling depth
Inches cm
1 Grasses and grasslands 2 5
2 Rice, finger millet, groundnut, pearl millet, small millets etc.(shallow rooted crops) 6 15
3 Cotton, sugarcane, banana, tapioca, vegetables etc. (deep rooted crops) 9 22
4 Perennial crops, plantations and orchard crops Three soil samples at 12, 24 and  36 inches Three soil samples at 30, 60 and 90 cm

Trees & Crops Suited For Problem Soils

Soils Tree sp. Crops  

Saline soils

Casuarina, Prosopis juliflora, Acacia nilotica, Terminalia arjuna,
Butea monosperma, Eucalyptus,
Achres sapota and

Paddy, Ragi, Sunflower, Sorghum, Green manure.


Alkaline soils

Sesbania. Dalbergia, Prosopis, Albizzia,
Neem, Pongamia, Glyricidia.

Rice, Cotton, Millets, Medicgo, Berseem,
and Sugar cane


Acid soils

Eucalyptus, Teriticornis,
Mango, Guava,
and Anilotica sp.,

Paddy, Wheat, Sorghum, Cotton, Vegetables and Sugarcane


Water Logged Soils

Terminalia arjuna,




Calcareous soils

Swietenia sp. Tamarind,

Paddy, Sorghum, Sugar cane and Castor


Gravel soils

Acacia planifrons,
A.lebbeck and Dalbergia sp.

Castor and
other millets



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