Kinsey Agricultural Services

Are you interested in helping just a small, organic gardener?

Yes we are! We gladly work with soil samples from gardens of any type. In fact, we have made recommendations for hundreds of organic gardens within the past twelve months. But there are some considerations that should be made before you send a sample to us for analysis and recommendations.

Take Time to Sample the Soil Correctly

First, if you do not regularly take soil samples, be sure to review the guidelines in Hands-On Agronomy (see also our Soil Analysis page). The recommendations we make can only be as good as the sample that has been taken for analysis. Far too many people make mistakes in the way they take soil samples that wind up costing them in terms of what could have been accomplished from the soil test they took and sent for an analysis.

Some common examples include taking the sample too deep, combining different types of soil – like sandy areas with clay areas, or red clay combined with yellow clay – into one composite sample, or applying materials such as lime to the soil without keeping a record of how much and when it was applied. It generally takes three years for lime to completely break down and there is no way of telling what will be the actual effects without that information.

When to Take Samples

If you take samples in the spring we recommend taking them before you fertilize your soil. If you have fertilized already then wait for at least 2 good rains / irrigations or 30 days, whichever is longest. Also consider the following before taking more samples, any recent applications of nitrogen (generally within the last 30 days) or moderate to large amounts of sulfur (generally 60 – 180 days) can skew the test results making it appear there is less calcium and magnesium in the soil than is actually the case. That may then show a false need for lime and it likely should not be added.

Once taken and prepared as shown below, send the sample to us for analysis and recommendations to supply timely treatments each fall or just after the harvest is completed.

This will give time to locate any materials that may be needed and get them applied in the autumn to prepare for the next spring crop. Keep in mind that any depleted nutrients did not happen in just one year and correcting them in the proper manner will not likely happen in one year either.

Be sure to fill out a soil submission form. If you need results quickly, once you have checked with us as to how long a recommendation from us will take, and determined that the wait is worth it, be sure to also request a copy of our soil submission form (available at no charge by fax, US Mail, or click here for a printable copy) and fill it out as completely as possible. This will enable us to get your results completed much faster and back into your hands with the best possible recommendations.

Let us know you are organic. Be sure, if you are an organic gardener, that you point this out to us so we can take that into account when making recommendations. Our soil submission form has a box that should be checked if you want organic recommendations. We also work with many conventional gardeners who expect to use the normal commercial products available locally and we have no way of knowing you grow organically unless you tell us.

Allow Sufficient Time for Analysis

Just be sure to plan ahead and send samples well beforehand. If you need the information back quickly, it is not a good idea to send samples to us without checking to see how long it is likely to take. Even then, it is only our best estimation.

Some misunderstand what our soil test and evaluation is all about. Every test is carefully considered on an individual basis and recommendations are based on the specific needs of the soil, what is to be grown and the fertility program you select. This requires much more time per sample than if we were to send out the number of pounds of N-P-K to feed the plants and a lime recommendation based solely on the soil pH provided!

We want to help our clients achieve excellent production and the top nutrient levels for the soil and everything they grow on it. Those who know us best understand that this is not just what we say but it is our absolute commitment. It may take a little longer to get the recommendations to you but it is the only way we know how to do it properly. However, if you are looking for a quick answer, or feel you need samples back in a hurry and we cannot meet your deadline, then by checking with us before sending the samples you would still be able to consider sending them to another lab who could better meet your needs.

Sources For Fertilizer

Please note we do not sell fertilizer and expect that you have or are willing to find the necessary products to supply what is needed for use on your property. Our soil submission form has a box in the lower right corner for the grower to list any specific materials they have available for use. If these will do the job we will use them in making the recommendations for your soil. Because of wide variations in make-up, just stating you have manure or compost without an analysis is not sufficient for us to be able to recommend its use. Without such an analysis, we will do our best to recommend any other correct materials to supply what is needed for that soil. It is generally possible to find sources for these materials by checking locally or on the Internet.