Soil Sample Collection  
Purpose of soil test

(refer to "Fees" for price list)

You need to have a reason for wanting soils tested before you collect the soil. Are you growing pasture, crops, vineyards, or lawn? Different soil tests have different requirements for sample collection. 

There is no benefit from having soil analysed for particular elements if you do not intend to react to the results. 
Which test do I choose?  

Choose the range of tests carefully. Asking for advice first may make the task much easier and perhaps more cost effective. Which paddock do you sample first? How many samples do you need to take? How should the samples be collected?  

Basic Soil Test (Type 1) use: phosphate application rate 

pH   in water
pH in calcium chloride
electrical conductivity (EC)
available phosphorus (Bray Method)

Basic test plus sulphate (Type 2) use: phosphate and sulphate levels 

pH in water
pH in calcium chloride
electrical conductivity (EC)
available phosphorus (Bray Method)
extractable sulphate (MCPA method)

Lime requirement (Type 3) use: acid soils for pasture and crops 

pH in water
pH in calcium chloride
electrical conductivity (EC)
available phosphorus (Bray Method)
extractable sulphate (MCPA method)
lime requirement (Mehlich method)

Pasture analysis (Type 4) use: full analysis 

as for Type 3 plus
exchangeable metals:zinc, copper, iron, manganese, aluminium
exchangeable cations: sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, 

On-site Domestic Effluent Disposal

The special suite of tests offered by Lanfax Labs for on-site effluent disposal include:

Test of up to three soil horizons from the same sample pit or auger hole that will include:
bulletTest on three horizons  - pH, EC, salinity, exchangeable cations, Emersons Aggregate Test, soil colour, soil texture
Test on one horizon (usually B horizon) - phosphorus sorption curve (5-point test)
bulletThe results will include an assessment for irrigation or sub-soil dispersal

Download brochure "Soil Analysis for On-site Wastewater Systems"

Sampling for Domestic Effluent Disposal


Presenting a soil sample for on-site wastewater assessment

1.  Introduction

2.  Site and Terrain Assessment

3.  Soil Profile Samples

4.  Sample Receipt and Preparation

5.  Summary


This document can be downloaded here - Soil sampling-T21-2







Sampling for Agricultural Purposes   (click here for brochure on sample collection)

Select a part of the paddock which is a fair example of the whole of the paddock. Avoid sheep camps, stock tracks, water washed areas or those which are "different" to the rest of that paddock. Of course, if you are looking for the reasons why these small areas are different, then that may need to sample these areas.

In the "selected site" place a peg or some other mark in the ground, something you can come back to next year if needed, or place a marker on the fence and record number of paces, at right angles, from that fence marker.  It is important that you sample from the same vicinity year after year otherwise the sample results have be skewed by variability within the paddock.

Mark out an imaginary circle about six paces in radius around that peg. Within that imaginary circle take about 8-10 samples of the top 100 mm (4 inches) of soil. Sample evenly within the circle. You can take more samples within the circle, if you wish.

The easiest way to take a sample of the top 100 mm is to dig a square hole the width of the spade on each side and about 100 mm deep. Remove the "plug of soil" just by lifting and turning it over. Cut a small piece of soil away from this "plug" so that you take a slice of soil from the top to the bottom of the plug. Alternatively, take a thin slice from the side of the hole as the sample. By either method you have a similar volume of soil from the top to 100 mm deep.

Place this small sample in a clean plastic bucket. Turn the plug back over and drop back into the hole and walk it in. This method puts all the soil back in its original position, as well as all the soil microbes back into their environment. Replacing the plug also prevents animals breaking a leg in the hole.

Collect the remaining samples within the circle in the same way and place in same bucket. 

When you have collected all the samples (8-10) in the bucket, mix all the sampled soil with a stick, remove stones, grasses, twigs and throw them away. Place insects, worms, caterpillars and other "friendlies" into one of the holes.

Mix up the remaining soil sample until it looks evenly mixed - similar texture and colour throughout. Take a "good double handful" of the soil from the bucket and place in a clean plastic bag.

Tie off the top of the bag and label to show -  
exact location of sample  (for your information - sample number, date sample taken and property name, initials of sample collector)

This soil sample should be sent to Lanfax Laboratories as soon as possible, certainly within 24 hours. Keep sample cool and out of bright light.  If the dispatch of the sample will be delayed, leave the top of the bag open, place in a cool dark place to prevent the sample sweating.

When the sample arrives at Lanfax Laboratories, the sample is checked for owners markings and a job sheet is opened. The tests you require will need to be marked on the accompanying sheet which has other information important for the interpretation of the test results.


The analyses offered by Lanfax Laboratories should be referred to your usual agronomist for specific on-farm interpretation in line with your management objectives. When your agronomist has specific tests that may be of interest for your soil sampling, please discuss these tests with Lanfax Laboratories. staff before you undertake the sampling; there may be some special sampling requirements.

The interpretation offered by Lanfax Laboratories with respect to soil analyses carried out will be made on a scientific basis by a professional soil scientist. The client must make the choice of fertiliser brands (and suppliers) and make the final choice in application rates. Lanfax Laboratories is an independent organisation and makes no recommendation on suppliers or comparisons of proprietary products

Equipment you will need:

peg and hammer;
spade or shovel;
clean plastic bucket;
unused plastic zip-lock bags, or plastic bags & rubber bands;
marker pen; and
masking tape.

Please do not write on plastic bags with felt-tip markers, the writing will rub off. Place a strip of masking tape on the bag and write on the tape. 

All the soil analyses performed by Lanfax Laboratories are under the direction of a certified professional soil scientist. The analytical methods are the preferred Australian methods published in Rayment and Lyons (2011) Soil Chemical Methods -Australia   

Lanfax Laboratories continually updates its methods and proficiency testing programs for a wide range of soil tests. That means you can have confidence that our professional services meet national standards of excellence.

Lanfax Laboratories is an independent organisation whose aim is to provide cost effective and reliable soil and water analysis.


Updated 21JAN21