Soil testing

Soil testing for General Horticulture

Horticulture soils are tested to measure the soil quality and nutrient levels for monitoring fertiliser programmes and to assist with identifying nutrient deficiency or toxicity.

About this Testing

Soil testing takes the guess work out of nutrient management and allows cost effective fertiliser programmes to be produced, targeting fertiliser applications where they are most required to meet the grower’s objectives.

Fertiliser Recommendations

As an independent laboratory, we leave the fertiliser recommendations to competent advisor's who know the property and the grower’s objectives.

The soil tests to order

For Horticultural soils a Basic Soil Profile, sulphate-S and available nitrogen (AN) test are usually recommended.

  • For Avocado Orchards a Basic Soil and Mehlich 3 trace nutrients test is recommended.
  • For Kiwifruit Orchards a Basic Soil Profile and available nitrogen (AN) test is recommended.
  • For Vegetables a Basic Soil Profile, sulphate-S and  available nitrogen test is usually recommended.
  • Other soil tests include organic sulphur, aluminium, boron, EDTA trace nutrients and more. Where reactive phosphate rock (RPR) fertilisers have been used, the Resin P (RP) test is recommended to measure plant available phosphorus.
  • The Organic Soil Profile measures the soil quality and includes total nitrogen, available nitrogen, organic matter (total carbon) and the soil total carbon:total nitrogen (C:N) ratio.

For help choosing the right soil tests and for their interpretation Soil Tests & Interpretation.

To select soil tests for specific Horticultural Crops, view the Crop Guides.

Taking a Sample

  • For Horticultural samples take 15 cm soil cores and do not sample within three months of applying fertiliser or lime. For a representative soil sample aim for 500g of soil.
  • For Tree Crops, take two 15 cm cores from the root zone of ten trees from two diagonal lines through the sample area.
  • For Row Crops like Kiwifruit or Grapes, take twenty soil cores from the plants root zone across the sample area.
  • For Vegetable Crops, collect twenty 15 cm soil cores across the sample area.

Sampling at the same time of year in the same way will give better nutrient monitoring.


Guides and Supporting Information

Contact Us

Freephone 0508 HILL LAB (44 555 22) or email