Step 4

Testing Soil and Manure

                picture NRCS

Soil testing is essential to determine the current nutrient status of soil and how much supplemental nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients are needed to meet crop needs. Soil testing generally costs less than $1.00 per acre and can save many times this amount by reducing fertilizer costs or improving crop yields.

Manure testing is necessary to accurately determine manure nutrient content.

This step will help you determine your soil's and manure's nutrient content.

To get started, read the complete text of Step 4 (link at the bottom of the page). Then, read over this page, and follow the instructions for collecting soil and manure samples. File the test reports in an organized manner for later reference.


After completing this section you should: 

  • Understand how and when to collect soil samples.
  • Understand how and when to collect manure samples.

Information you will need:

1. Soil Phosphorus concentration 

  • The Utah State University Analytical Laboratory analyzes soil and manure samples. For information on submitting a sample contact your local County Extension Agent or got to http://www.usual.usu.edu/.
  • Directions on how to take a soil sample
  • Soil test submission form

2. Manure Phosphorus concentration 

  • The Utah State University Analytical Laboratory analyzes soil and manure samples. For information on submitting a sample contact your local County Extension Agent or got to http://www.usual.usu.edu/.
  • Directions on how to take a manure sample
  • Manure test submission form

Documentation filed in this section:

1. Soil test lab reports 

  • Example of high phosphorus soil report
  • Example of low phosphorus soil report.

NOTE: Soils should be tested annually when manure applications are made based on the nitrogen needs of crops, and at least once every three years when manure applications are made based on phosphorus.

2. Manure test reports (obtained after manure is tested). 

  • Example of manure report

NOTE: Manure should be tested several times a year during common manure spreading times. If manure nutrient contents are similar among several sample dates, average values can be used.

Should you use manure samples or book values?
Recent research shows that western manure moisture and nitrogen contents are lower, and phosphorus contents higher, than book values.
Whenever possible use recent manure sample data instead of book values to calculate manure application rates.

3. Record Keeping forms to keep all of your sampling information (when, where, who sampled, etc.) together and organized.

Record Keeping Form


Full Text of Step 4 from USU/NRCS CNMP Curriculum: 


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