Delaware Soil Testing Program

General Information on Routine Soil Testing and Sample Submission

We offer several types of tests to meet the needs of our varied clientele. The “Soil Fertility Tests” and the “Lead Screening Test” are the tests most commonly used by farmers, homeowners, landscapers and others who:

  • want to know the fertility of their soil for the purpose of growing plants,
  • are having difficulty growing plants and want to determine pH or  fertility problems are the cause,  or
  • are concerned about the possible contamination of their yard or garden soil with lead.

A summary of these tests is shown here:




Routine Soil Test with Lead for Home Gardeners

pH, lime requirement, organic matter, Mehlich 3 extractable nutrients [Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium(Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Sulfur (S) and Aluminum (Al)] and recommendations for three plants / crops. Includes screening for soil Lead content.


Routine Soil Test for Agricultural Operations, Lawn Care Companies and Landscapers

pH, lime requirement, organic matter, Mehlich 3 extractable nutrients [Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), Calcium(Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Boron (B), Sulfur (S) and Aluminum (Al)] and recommendations for three plants / crops.


Soluble Salts

Measures dissolved salts, high levels of which may inhibit seed germination and be harmful to seedlings and sensitive plants.


Pre-sidedress Soil Nitrate Test for Corn

Measures soil nitrate levels in the soil at the point of maximum nitrogen uptake. Includes N recommendations and 24 hour turn around.


Soil Lead Screening

An initial screen for those who suspect that their soil may be contaminated with lead. The test requires a special soil test kit with specific instructions on collecting the sample. This test is only a screen and further testing by an environmental laboratory may be recommended based upon the results.



Upon request, soil samples can be tested for heavy metals (in addition to the Soil Lead Screening test listed above): Arsenic (As), Cadmium (Cd), Chromium (Cr), and Nickel (Ni). Also upon request, soil samples can be tested for Sodium (Na). Contact the program at 302-831-1392 or email: for additional information on requests for testing for the presence of heavy metals or sodium.

To have your soil tested, purchase the appropriate University of Delaware soil test kit at one of the locations listed below. (Refer to the section below: Where can I get a soil test kit?). The kit consists of an envelope with cloth bag attached and an information sheet appropriate to the type of testing you require (e.g., commercial farm, lawn&garden, soil lead screening, PSNT). Following the directions given in the “How to Collect a Soil Sample” brochure, use a clean bucket and trowel, spade or soil probe to collect a representative sample of the site. Thoroughly mix the soil. Place 1 to 1½ cups of mixed soil into the plastic bag and place the plastic bag into the cloth bag. Tie the end closed with the drawstring. Fill out the information sheet and enclose it in the envelope. The completed sample can then be returned to the Soil Testing Program.

Option A: (On-Line)

Soil test kits may be purchased on-line from this web site by going to the Order Kits tab.


Option B: (County Extension Office)

Soil test kits can be obtained at any of the three UD Cooperative Extension Offices listed below. Payment will be made directly to the Soil Testing Program by enclosing payment with the kit or by checking the box that you wish to pay be credit card and providing a daytime phone number where you can be reached. Program staff will then contact you for payment information.

New Castle County

Kent County

Sussex County

461 Wyoming Rd
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-2506

Paradee Center
69 Transportation Circle
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 730-4000

Research and Education Center
16483 County Seat Highway
Georgetown, DE 19947
(302) 856-7303



Option C: (On-site or via mail)

Soil test kits may also be purchased on-site or ordered directly from the UD Soil Testing Program. To order by mail, send a letter indicating the number and type of kits requested along with check for the appropriate amount payable to “University of Delaware”. Be sure to indicate the address to which the kits should be mailed. Send the request to:

UD Soil Testing Program
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
152 Townsend Hall
531 South College Avenue
Newark, DE 19716-2170


Option D:

Mailer kits may also be available from local garden centers. You can call our office (302-831-1392) to see which locations near you may have kits on-hand.

How to Submit Samples Without Regular Soil Test Bags

If you want to submit a sample and do not have a kit, please follow the steps listed below:

1. Collect a representative sample by following the directions in the brochure "How to Take a Soil Sample"

2. Thoroughly mix each sample and place 1-1.5 cups of the mixed sample into a ziplock bag. Label the bag with your name and the sample ID (e.g., Field 6, Backyard, etc)

3. Down the appropriate information sheet from the “Soil Testing Program Forms” page at right. Complete one copy of the information sheet for each sample. Be sure that the sample ID on the bag and the sample ID on the information sheet match.

4. Enclose payment or indicate on the back of the information that you wish to pay by credit card. Checks should be made payable to the University of Delaware. If paying by credit card, DO NOT write your card number on the information sheet. Instead, list a daytime phone number and our office will contact you for payment.

5. Place the samples and information sheet in a box or mailing envelope and send to the laboratory using the following address above.

Mailer kits may also be available from local garden centers. You can call our office to see which locations near you may have kits on-hand.

Additional Questions Please call the office at 302-831-1392 or email with any additional questions you may have. We are in the office and happy to help. 

Typically, your results will be mailed out within 10 working days (M-F) of the sample’s arrival at the laboratory. During peak periods (December – Early April), it may be as long as 15 working days.

Should you have questions about your soil test results and / or recommendations can be answered by either your local county Extension agent or by the Master Gardener Garden Help Line. The phone numbers for Delaware Cooperative offices are listed above and are also printed on the soil test report for all Delaware residents. Clients from other states can find the phone numbers for their local Cooperative Extension office in their local phone book.

Soil test results are stored in our archive for several years. If you wish to have new reports generated, please call the Soil Testing Program Office at (302) 831-1392. Give us your name, bag number and/or lab number and we will be happy to generate a new report for you.

Routine fertility test reports are printed on UD Soil Test Report Forms. Reports for other sample types are usually generated in spreadsheet format. Hardcopies of reports will be mailed to the client and any other designated party specified on the sample information sheet or the analysis request form.

Copies of routine fertility soil test reports for Delaware clients will be sent to their County Extension Office so that Cooperative Extension Staff my assist clients with questions about their reports. Individual report information will not be released to any persons other than those whose names are listed on the report except by the written request of the paying client(s) to the Director of the University of Delaware Soil Testing Program.

Electronic copies of reports, either as pdf files, a spreadsheet or NuManPro data file, may be requested in addition to the hard copy version. Please provide your e-mail address on your information sheet or analysis request form to be sent an electronic copy.


152 Townsend Hall
531 S College Ave, Newark, DE 19716-2170.


Phone: 302-831-1392
Fax: 302-831-0605