Spring 2018

Farmers & Gardeners: When sampling your soil in spring for outside growing, we recommend the basic Standard Soil Test. We will provide recommendations to adjust soil pH, organic matter, and nutrient levels to the OPTIMUM range for plant growth and best yield. Plant-available nitrogen (nitrate) measured during the season is much more meaningful than a measurement in spring or in the late fall. The Comprehensive Soil Test, which includes nitrate, is best run after Memorial Day, when the soil has warmed and normal biological activity has resumed.

Hoop House & High Tunnel Growers: Most unheated tunnels have thawed by the end of February and are ready to be soil tested. Uncovered soil in a high tunnel will wick and accumulate nutrient salts at the surface, even in the winter. Be sure to sample the entire bed depth, from the surface down to a full 6-8 inches. This will better represent your true fertility level after reworking your beds prior to planting. High tunnel soil test recommendations are designed to feed the greater nutrient demand of your tunnel crops.

Soil Biological Health can be checked at any time, by asking for the Soil Biology Test. This add-on test measures the microbial biomass in your soil. Dormant microbes reactivate in remoistened soil, providing a burst of concentrated respiration which is measured by the amount of carbon dioxide released. In 2017 we ran over 700 Soil Biology tests.

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Understanding Recommendations

Soil, Plant and Environmental Soil Program 2015Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station (MAFES)

The MAFES Analytical Laboratory and Maine Soil Testing Service is located in Deering Hall on the University of Maine campus. (driving direction)

We are available Monday through Friday between 8 and 5. We provide analytical services at reasonable prices to the public and to researchers.

We analyze soil, plant tissue, compost, manure, irrigation water, wood ash, fertilizers, organic residuals and other materials for nutrient content, organic matter, lead and other trace elements.

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