NCDA&CS Soil Sample Boxes

Samples MUST be submitted in an official NCDA&CS soil box. These are available from NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division office in Raleigh, county Cooperative Extension offices, or some counties may have hardware stores that have boxes.


What to Use to Collect Sample

To take a soil sample, you need a clean, plastic bucket; soil probe, shovel, spade or garden trowel.

Do not use brass, bronze or galvanized tools (including buckets) as they will contaminate samples. 

How to Collect

soil sample box filled to red line

Collect a slice or core of soil (4 inches deep for lawns, 6 to 8 inches deep for gardens) from 8 to 10 random locations across the lawn or garden. Mix these cores together in a plastic bucket. Fill a soil box with this mixture and label it so you know which area it came from. Fill box up to the red line that you can see on the outside. If not, the sample will be insufficient to run through the lab.

For most distinct areas, one sample/area should be adequate. However, certain areas may need to be sampled and labeled separately if plants with different requirements are being grown. In such cases, label samples from each unique area differently: e.g., FRONT, BACK, SIDE, BLUEB (blueberry), etc.

How deep should samples be taken?

Crop you are wanting to sample for Depth sample should be taken
Established lawns 4 inches
Vegetable gardens 6 to 8 inches
Shrubs and Trees 4-6 inches

* Note: If you are taking a sample to diagnose a suspected nutrient problem, take the sample within the plant root zone.

Correct Soil Condition

Extremely wet soils are difficult to collect and mix.  Soil too wet to till or plant is too wet to sample. Therefore, allow soil to drain before sampling.

*Moist soil is ok to submit. 


Example of Insufficient Sampling

sample box with insufficient soil

As you can see, the box was NOT filled to the red line. In addition, there is too much other debris which further limits the amount of soil available for testing. This means that there is insufficient soil for the lab to complete all assigned tests; one or more tests may have to be eliminated.

This page was last modified on 12/05/2023