Testing Your Soil
The McCracken County Extension District Board (EDB) has voted to allow for residents of McCracken County to submit soil from their property in the county to be tested at no charge (up to 7 samples) starting June 2020.
Each soil test will reveal the 1.) pH of the site and 2.) recommendations for use of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P)and potassium (K).
1.)It is important to have the pH at the correct level for the plant to be able to take up the nutrients. In the soil pH can be either too low (adding lime to correct this) or too high (adding elemental sulfur to correct this.) The soil pH is hard to change and takes time for either the use of lime or the use of sulfur to make the changes. For example, a vegetable garden in most cases requires a pH of about 6.5 while a blueberry patch requires a much lower pH of about 4.5.
2.) These elements of N,P, and K, are the most needed elements in annual production of a plant. They are applied in the fertilizer. On a container of fertilizer, the three numbers on the label separated by dashes correspond to N-P-K in that order. So, for example, 8-4-6 would be a blend of 8 parts of N to 4 parts of P to 6 parts of K.
Why is the EDB offering this? It is a way to help our residents to save money by applying the correct inputs of nutrients. Such a test of the soil before adding inputs can also have the potential to reduce damage to the environment from over application of N, P or K and lime.
To submit a soil sample:
Gather soil in the amount of about 2 cups, from several locations where plant(s) will grow with the same purpose: garden, lawn, orchard, farm-field or landscaped site (from the top 6 - 8 inches of soil.) Place soil on a paper plate or piece of cardboard to allow it to dry out a bit. Put the soil in a zip-top bag, or similar container and label it with your contact information. Repeat this for the next soil sample from a site that is different in purpose.
Bring the soil sample(s) to the McCracken County Extension office. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You will receive your Soil Test Results within 10 to 30 days. Masks and social-distancing guidelines apply.
With so many issues related to Covid-19, sometimes our building has had to be accessible by appointment only. We have been open all days, except for weekends and holidays, but some days have had different guidelines.
Read more about soil test methods at:
Also, thanks to the help from the McCracken County Extension District Board,(EDB), it is possible for McCracken County residents to get up to 7 of the common-type soil-sample tests done. Bring proof of residency by drivers’ license or one of last month’s utility bills.
The value assigned to this per resident is equal to no more than $50.00.
For samples beyond this number, please allow for payment for credit card, check or money order. No cash is accepted.