Master Gardener volunteer conducts a pH soil test on a soil sample
Image by Sandy Repp

A Master Gardener volunteer tests soil pH.

Soil Testing Services

Why Test Soil?

A soil test will tell you what nutrients are in your soil and what you may need to add (in the form of fertilizer) for successful crop growth. Plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (macronutrients) as will as micronutrients to grow. Deficiency or excess of these elements will impact the health and productivity of plants. In addition, the pH (acid/alkaline level) of your soil has an impact upon how much of your soil's nutrients your plants will be able to use. CCE of Columbia and Green Counties' Agriculture and Horticulture Programs can provide or arrange several different tests for your soil, and can help you to interpret the results and choose an appropriate course of action if necessary.

pH Testing

A pH test measures the acid/alkaline level of your soil. In the pH scale, 7.0 is considered neutral; lower numbers indicate acid soil, while higher numbers indicate that the soil is alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH of 6.8. pH levels influence nutrient availability, with most nutrients being available to plants when the pH is in this range (6.8-7.0). If a soil is too alkaline or too acid, certain nutrients may be limited. To change soil pH to the desirable range, you will either add lime if the soil is too acid or sulfur if the soil is too alkaline. With your pH test result, we will let you know what amount of lime or sulfur is needed if any.

CCE of Columbia and Green Counties will perform a pH test on soil samples that are brought to our Hudson or Acra offices, for a fee of $3 per sample. Please see the instructions on "How to take a soil sample.  

We also sell Cornell pH Test Kits. When properly used, the pH can be determined to approximately +0.1 pH unit. This is adequate for most situations. Note: the pH kit cannot be used accurately by a color blind person. We offer a Standard Range Kit (5.0-7.2) for $30/box.

Our soil pH test only reads within the range of 5.0-7.2. For testing outside this range will require the soil to be sent to Dairy One or Rutgers for exact ph reading.

Last updated April 27, 2023