Soil Testing Laboratory

Homeowners as well as commercial growers and ornamental horticulture professionals alike may have soil tested for pH and conductivity (soluble salts). Samples are tested for pH utilizing a Beckman-Coulter digital pH meter. Conductivity readings on samples are obtained utilizing a Thermo-Orion digital conductivity meter. Results of soil tests are sent to individuals via regular mail or email if you choose. Each report indicates the soil pH, the conductivity reading as well as a rate of limestone (if needed) to raise the soil pH into the correct range for the plants/crops being grown in the sampled soil.

The Soil Testing Laboratory is located at the Cornell Cooperative Extension - Suffolk County, Extension Education Center in Riverhead, NY. Samples may be dropped off directly at the Extension Education Center in Riverhead or at the Insect & Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab located at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale, NY. Samples dropped off at the Arboretum will be transported once a week to the Lab in Riverhead. Soil samples can also be mailed directly to the Lab in Riverhead as well. Testing is performed once or twice a week depending on the volume of samples submitted to the Lab.

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Extension Education Center
423 Griffing Avenue, Riverhead, NY 11901

Office Hours: Monday through Friday - 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Horticulture Information Line: 631-727-4126
Monday through Friday
9:00 am to 12:00 noon


Cornell Cooperative Extension
Bayard Cutting Arboretum
Montauk Highway, Oakdale, NY 11769

Office Hours: Thursday through Friday - 10:00 am to 4:00 pm  (April-October)

Horticulture Information Line: 631-581-4223
Thursday through Friday
8:45 am to 11:45 am & 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm 

Directions To Our Insect & Plant Disease Diagnostic Labs  

Soil pH Testing Submission Forms

Below are links to our soil pH testing submission forms. The submission forms contain instructions for taking samples including the cost for testing. Please print and fill out the appropriate form and submit it with your soil sample(s):

Homeowner/Homegardener - Submission Form

Commercial Horticulture Professional (landscaper, arborist, garden center, etc.) - Submission Form

Commercial Agriculture Grower (vegetables, fruits, nursery stock, sod, greenhouse/container grower) - Submission Form


Instructions For Taking A Soil Sample

  • First determine how many samples to take. Different gardens/ beds, lawns, areas with different soil types, areas where amendments such as limestone were added, areas with plants having different pH requirements, good/bad areas, etc. should be sampled separately.
  • In gardens/new plantings where the soil will be turned under/rototilled individual samples are taken from the upper 6 to 8 inches of soil.
  • In established plantings or lawns where the soil will not be turned under individual samples are taken from the upper 3 inches of soil.
  • Each soil sample is comprised of 5 to 10 individual samples obtained by walking back and forth diagonally across the area to be sampled.
  • Use a trowel to dig a small hole to the desired depth. Remove a slice of soil from the entire side of the hole and place this in a clean plastic container.
  • Repeat this procedure at each of the 5 to 10 random spots and place the soil from these spots in the same container. Remove stones, grass, etc.
  • Next remove two 8 ounce cupfuls of the soil in the container and place this in a plastic bag. Secure the bag. This is your soil sample for that area.
  • Mark the outside of the bag with an identification (i.e. #1, #2, or -A‖, -B‖, or -East‖, -West‖). Keep the identification simple.
  • Repeat this entire procedure for each additional garden, landscape bed, lawn, etc.


Additional Soil Testing Services Provided by Other Labs


Soil Nutrient Testing at the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratories (CNAL), Ithaca, NY.

Effective August 17, 2009, all grower and home gardener soil testing activities that were previously performed at CNAL in Ithaca, NY are being transferred to Agro-One Services. Agro-One, part of Dairy One Inc., is located at 730 Warren Rd. in Ithaca, NY.

All grower and home gardener soil samples for the standard fertility test package using the Modified Morgan method and recommendations are now being processed at Agro-One as are the payments, fees, and questions pertaining to your routine soil fertility analysis. When submitting samples directly to Agro-One, please request the Cornell recommendation; otherwise, you may receive no recommendation - just results.

All questions pertaining to the soil nutrient testing services should be directed to Agro-One Services. Calls can be made to Agro-One at 1.800.496.3344 or 607.257.1272. Instructions for taking samples and submitting samples along with costs and submission forms are available at the following Agro-One web site (



Cornell Soil Health Testing

Soil health describes the capacity of a soil to be used productively without adversely affecting its future productivity, the ecosystem or the environment. Soil health emphasizes the integration of biological with chemical and physical measures of soil quality that affect farmers' profits and the environment.

Soil health deals with both inherent and dynamic soil quality. Inherent soil quality relates to the natural (genetic) characteristics of the soil, such as its texture. These qualities are the result of soil-forming factors, are generally represented in soil surveys and cannot be changed easily.

In contrast, dynamic soil quality components -- such as compaction, biological functioning, root proliferation, etc. -- are readily affected by management practices. The dynamic component is of most interest to growers because good management allows the soil to come to its full potential.


The inherent and dynamic soil quality components do interact, however, as some soil types are much more susceptible to degradation and unforgiving of poor management than others.


Soil health is important to farmers and growers because they need to know if their soil will continue to sustain profitable yields, and to help reduce long-term risks to environmental quality.

The Cornell Soil Health Program Work Team has developed soil measurements to help monitor the state of soil health both in space and time. These indicators can measure soil improvement or degradation resulting from different management practices and also the long term changes in soil health under given management practices.

For more information on the Cornell Soil Health Testing program including all costs, sampling instructions, submission forms, etc. visit their web site at (




Cornell Waste Management Institute - Soil Quality and Testing

The information on the Cornell Waste Management Institute - Soil Quality and Testing website is intended to help people who are interested in learning about soil contamination, soil testing, interpreting test results, and best practices for healthy soils. Among other subjects a list of laboratories certified by the NYS Department of Health Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) to conduct lead analyses is available at this web site. Many laboratories on this list also test for other hazardous materials, air emissions, etc.