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How Much Does It Cost To Test Soil?

National Average Change Location | View National
$1,226
Typical Range
$704 - $1,748
Low End
$400
High End
$2,500

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Soil quality is not only an important part of the ecosystem, but it's also an incredibly complex system in the process of residential and commercial buildings. Soil testing costs vary widely depending on the type of testing involved. A basic test will measure pH levels and the presence of organic trace minerals. A more advanced test can check for toxins and provide an advanced carbon analysis. It is important to inquire about the correct testing application.

Why is it important to test soil?

There are several reasons to test soil. A basic soil testing kit at a local home improvement store is a great starting point to determine how to amend the soil for landscaping. Soil testing can be quite extensive and bring up a whole catalog of information on the land.

The most important aspect of soil testing is to determine whether amendments will need to be made or more drastic measures should be taken. Determining soil requirements can eliminate the loss of plant material when landscaping. The type of soil test can determine the requirements of the test. For example, home construction and renovation may require additional tests to determine the dense capacity of the soil to hold a footing.

An older, urban property can show trace elements of lead from the exhaust of pre-unleaded gasoline vehicles. It can also determine if there are pollutants in the aquifer of a private well. Pollution testing will determine if the soil has forms of E. coli and Coliform bacteria that reside in the soil and leach into groundwater. This site review will help with placement of wells to pump potable water.

A soil test can make or break a construction project. It's important to determine the exact construction requirements and possible failure points to find the right test. Many building permits require soil testing to measure footings and frost/freeze cycles in the soil based on loamy or clay texture.

Material and labor costs

Soil testing can be extensive or basic. Each type of test, such as a soil nitrate test, ranges from $10 to $20 in cost. Screening tests for toxins and environmental cation tests for farming can range from $30 to $50 per test. There are additional costs for expedited services from labs that range from $30 to $100 in some areas. Some soil testing services offer extra reporting and calculation labor visuals for large-scale applications at an additional charge per hour. A prime example of this would be an extensive landscaping project that would involve in-ground pools and backyard ponds.

Class ratings are used as a package test for specific zoning such as residential or industrial. One of the most common evaluations under this category is a topsoil evaluation that measures the natural organic material in the soil and a visual assessment of gravel content. Class evaluations can also determine the viability for recreational resources such as a golf course or public park.

Types of soil testing applications

A perk test determines the ability for water to "percolate" into the soil before installation of a private septic or drain tile. It can help determine if there needs to be additional testing of the installation of a dry well to contain extra water. Perk tests will determine if the soil is clay, loamy or sandy.

Advanced testing is also known as fertility testing. It measures the viability of pH levels and recommendations based on trace elements in the soil. Applications are sent off to a lab for either farm or landscape testing. The fertility test for a farm includes additional measurements from a certified agent on estimated water solubility.

Many lab services and cooperative extension offices provide � la carte services based on specific needs. Some of the more common tests include soil texture and lead screening for residents. Older, historical properties in an urban area may need testing to determine the soil quality and presence of lead in case of installation of vegetable garden beds.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Soil testing has several benefits that can prevent loss of a business or home. The services are usually inexpensive and can provide several resources available for remediation. The testing services are usually connected to a local or state university extension office. This can provide sample data for an area close to the homeowner's vicinity to show proper safe levels of materials in the soil. Soil testing is also relatively quick and efficient. The labor costs are minimal on the homeowner's part, and the results are usually good for a long time.

There are a few pitfalls to soil testing. It can often be a confusing and long process when results are skewed. A simple pH and trace element test may not be enough to determine why nothing is growing well in the soil. It can also lead to a false positive in tests that aren't doubled up with other tests that negate the result. For example, a test that doesn't detect nitrates in the soil can create a false positive on groundwater readings for trace chemicals. Most tests may require multiple readings to determine the root cause of an issue.

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