Mkulima today the Soil testing tips for farming starts with soil sampling, where a portion of the soil is collected using a soil auger to represent the block of the farm for analysis.

It is important to know the nutritional status of your soil before starting crop production activities.

This helps in understanding the nutrients in the soil and its general health. Some of the things that result in poor soil health are soil erosion and continuous cropping without replenishing the nutrients.

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Soil testing tips for  farming

To know the fertility of the soil, one must do a test/analysis. Soil fertility refers to the ability of the soil to supply the nutrients required for optimum plant growth.

Soil testing tips for farming must be done before planting to help determine the type of fertilizers to use or the nutrients that the soil lacks.

The process starts with soil sampling, where a portion of the soil is collected using a soil auger to represent the block of the farm for analysis and to determine the nutrients avaialbe or the availability of pathogens.

Accurate soil sampling determines the overall results to be obtained after soil test analysis. Soil nutrients refer to elements in the soil required for plant growth, which plays a critical role in determining successful growth.

Once collected the soil samples are analyzed in a laboratory.

history of the farm

Knowledge of the history of the farm is critical when collecting the soil sample and understanding the results. The actual size of the area for soil sampling is determined by various factors such as the soil type, color, previos cropping history, previous fertilizer applications, the slope of the land, and drainage.

Depending on the above factors, the land should be divided into uniform portions.

In farmer Irene’s case, we have collected the soil on two portions of the farm, thus we have two smaples.

Tools used in the job include soil auger or shovel, smaple collection bags, a bucket, soil log books, and writing materials or lanels.

soil collection

There are different methods of collecting soil for sampling such as random, zigzag, and transverse.

The soil should be collected at the right depth and in the correct place to represent the entire block.

For farmer Irene, we collected the soil sample using the random method. When sampling we avoided foot paths, under trees, and edges of the farm to increase the efficiency of the results.

The depth of soil sampling is equally important due to tillage and nutrient mobility as this influences the availability of nutrients in the different zones.


Informative soil sampling improves on-farm nutrients efficiency resulting in a higher return on investment for fertilizer and lime application and a lower risk of off-site nutrients.

Collect the soil from the different points and mix well in a bucket. If the soil is excessively wet, allow it to dry slightly by spreading a thin layer on a flat surface like a table or sack.

The collected smpale should be packed in a samling bag that is well labled with the farmer’s details such as the date of collection, the preevios crops planted and the crop thee farmer intends to grow in the next season. The collected soil should be delivered to the laboratory as soon as possible for analysis.

Farmer Irene is expecting laboratory results after submitting the soil sample for testing. The results will come by email.

Credits Ann Macharia

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