Backyard Soil Health Indicators

Ten tests you can do in your own garden with simple handmade tools to test for soil health in addition to the chemical tests.

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Soil Testing

Soil testing is an excellent measure of soil fertility. It is a very inexpensive way of maintaining good plant health and maximum crop productivity. The best time to test your soil is the Spring or the Fall.

The file below is a fact sheet from OSU Extension titled "Soil Testing is an Excellent Investment for Garden, Lawn and Landscape Plants, and Commercial Crops." It includes a list of places to get your soil tested.

Additionally, UMass Amherst has a Soil & Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory.

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Urban Soil Primer

The Urban Soil Primer is intended to give planning officials and people who live in urban areas an introduction to soils. It provides information important in planning and managing land resources in a manner that helps to prevent or mitigate problems associated with sedimentation, contamination, runoff, and structural failure.

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Web Soil Survey

This web tool provides soil data and information produced by the National Cooperative Soil Survey. It is operated by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and provides access to the largest natural resource information system in the world. NRCS has soil maps and data available online for more than 95 percent of the nation’s counties and anticipates having 100 percent in the near future. The site is updated and maintained online as the single authoritative source of soil survey information. Soil surveys can be used for general farm, local, and wider area planning. Onsite investigation is needed in some cases, such as soil quality assessments and certain conservation and engineering applications.



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