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The Delta Urban Soils Laboratory


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The quality of soil has changed dramatically over the last 50 years with a rapid increase in human population and related industrial and agricultural activities. Approximately 40% of the world’s agricultural land is significantly degraded.

To increase yields, farmers use more fertilizers and pesticides to compensate for soil degradation. This increased use of chemicals results in soil, water, and air pollution. Therefore, it is important to test your soil before growing anything to determine if your soil is missing necessary nutrients and if there are any contaminants present.

By testing your soil, you will:

  • Better understand what is in your soil
  • Learn to grow plants more efficiently
  • Understand what needs to be done to improve soil quality
  • Prevent potential contaminant exposure
  • Save money and time by knowing what you need to focus on

The soil tests will show its composition and help highlight:

  • nutrient deficiency
  • organic matter content
  • acidity or alkalinity of soil (pH level)
  • salts levels
  • presence of any heavy metals

Why soil testing is important (download pdf)

An easy and affordable soil testing service is offered as part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s commitment to the community. We accept samples from all regions across the U.S.

Our goal is to get the results emailed to you within 2 business weeks from the day we receive the sample(s).

Tests, Test Packages, and Fees can be dowloaded here

How to Prepare Soil Samples in 7 easy steps

Collect soil samples following the instructions below. You will need:

  • spade or trowel
  • bucket
  • plastic bag (quart size storage bag) per sample
  • mailing envelope or a small box
  • permanent marker

Step 1. Use a spade or trowel to take small samples (1/2 cup of soil) from up to 10 random, evenly distributed spots in your area of interest, and put all the soil in a clean container such as a bucket. For very small areas, a minimum of 3 spots is recommended.

Sampling depth:

  • for a grass lawn dig down from the top to 3 inches deep, excluding the grass
  • for growing vegetables and other plants dig down from the top to 6 inches deep.
  • Submit one sample for each of your areas of interest (for example, vegetable garden, flower garden, lawn, trees). Make sure to clean the tool used between collecting different samples to avoid cross-contamination.
Step 2. Thoroughly mix the soil in the container. Remove as many pebbles, leaves, and plant roots as possible. Transfer 1 cup of the soil mixture to a plastic bag and seal. Don’t fill the bag.

If samples are wet, air dry them at room temperature before putting them in the plastic bag. Do not dry samples on a stove or radiator as heat can change the readings.

Step 3. Place the plastic bag in a mailing envelope (preferably a padded envelope) or a small box to help protect the sample.
Step 4. Using a permanent marker, label each sample with an ID that helps you remember the location of the soil sample (such as lawn, by the pond, tomato plot). The ID name should match the ID name you put on the submission form.

If a sample is not clearly labeled, we will contact you via email to ask for additional information to help us identify each sample or ask you to resubmit a soil sample.

Step 5. Fill out the Submission Form that you find at this link or use the QR code and fill out one form for each sample. An example of how to fill out the form is below.

Example of how to fill the submission form (click to enlarge)


Step 6. Include your check or money order made out to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette School of Geosciences into a package with the soil sample(s).

Step 7. Mail samples to

Dr. Anna Paltseva
611 McKinley St
Hamilton Hall #330
Lafayette, LA, 70504

You will receive a confirmation when we have your sample(s). Note the automatic emails go out once per week, if you require immediate confirmation, we recommend tracking your package.
Our goal is to get the results emailed to you within 2 business weeks from the day we receive the sample(s).

By requesting this service, the client agrees that the data may be used for statistical analysis and research purposes. The client’s identity and address will be kept confidential.

If you have any questions regarding the submission or result interpretation, please contact Dr. Anna Paltseva at

The Delta Urban Soils Lab ran heavy metals and pH soil testing for an urban farm PLANT Group is working on in Newark, NJ.  The lab returned us results in a timely manner. Anna was extremely helpful in interpreting the results. The lab gave us the data and guidance we need to move forward with soil remediation. Thanks Delta Urban Soils Lab! Austin Arrington, Founder, PLANT Group