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Diagnostic Testing

Soil pH Testing

The Santa Rosa County Cooperative Extension Service offers a free soil pH testing service. The pH test indicates the acidity or alkalinity of your soil and is useful in screening your soil for very low or very high pH. Recommendations for liming will only be made for soil samples sent to the University of Florida as their testing also includes a crucial test for the buffering capacity of your soil. For more information: Soil pH and Landscape Plants.

pH tests are conducted at the Milton office. A Master Gardener will contact you with the results generally within a few days. Soil samples may be delivered to the following locations:

  • County Extension Office
    6263 Dogwood Drive
    Milton, FL
    Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • South Santa Rosa Service Center
    5819 Gulf Breeze Parkway
    Gulf Breeze, FL
    Tuesdays only 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • County Extension Office (Jay)
    Jay Community Center
    5259 Booker Lane
    Jay, FL
    Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

How to take a soil sample:

Using a trowel or shovel, push back any existing vegetation and/or mulch and obtain a small amount of soil from 10-15 different spots over the area you wish to test. When you sample a lawn, take the soil from the upper 2-4 inches. When sampling a vegetable garden or landscape plants, take soil from the upper six inches. Place the 10-15 cores into a clean, dry, plastic bucket. Mix thoroughly and allow to dry. Submit approximately 2 cups of your composite sample in a container or plastic baggie with your name, address and phone number.

Soil Nutrient Testing

The University of Florida’s Extension Soil Testing Laboratory in Gainesville offers a comprehensive soil test for $7.00 that include pH, nutrients (except nitrogen), and recommendations. Collection kits are available from any Santa Rosa County Extension Office.

Request forms:

Homeowners can submit samples using the Landscape and Vegetable Garden Soil Test Request Form (120KB pdf).

Commercial producers use one of the following forms:

Disease Testing

The Santa Rosa County Extension Service can assist you in the diagnosis of plant disease. While some diagnoses may be made over the phone, a sample of the diseased plant is frequently needed. Samples should be collected and transported appropriately.

Flower, shrub and tree samples:

  • Submit generous amounts of plant material representing a range of symptoms. Samples should contain some live material in addition to the diseased/dead tissue. For trees and shrubs, submit several small branches exhibiting symptoms.
  • Sample should be submitted as soon as possible. Do not allow them to dry out. Refrigerate if necessary.

Turf samples:

  • Submit a sample approximately 8 inches by 8 inches square and two to three inches deep. It is important for us to see the root system.
  • Take the sample from the margin of the bad area so that half the sample shows the symptoms and the other is showing relatively unaffected grass.
  • Sample should be submitted as soon as possible. Do not allow them to dry out. Refrigerate if necessary.

Pathology Laboratory

Due to our limited resources in the county office, it may be necessary for a sample to be submitted to the UF Extension Plant Disease Clinic. The cost is $40 per sample plus the cost of shipping.  The client is responsible for the entire cost.  Sample submission form and instructions can be found athttp://plantpath.ifas.ufl.edu/Clinic/PDC_in_state_submission_form.pdf

Insect Identification

Your local Extension Service can identify many insect pests. Occasionally, it will be necessary for you to bring in the insect for correct identification. If a sample is needed, please submit several insects in an appropriate container. Live samples are preferred. If there is going to be a delay in submitting the sample, please preserve the insect by freezing or immersing in rubbing alcohol.

The Insect Identification Lab at the University of Florida will also identify insects for a fee of $8 per sample. For more information, refer to How to Send an Insect Sample (33KB pdf) and the Insect I.D. Form (86KB pdf) .

Nematode Testing

Nematodes are microscopic threadworms that attack the root system of many plants. They can be difficult to diagnose and a laboratory assay is recommended if nematodes are suspected. The testing fee is $20 plus the cost of shipping. The client is responsible for the cost and the mailing of the sample.

For more information, refer to Preparing a Nematode Sample and the Nematode Form (88KB pdf).

Plant Identification

The Santa Rosa County Extension Service can identify many plants for you. Occasionally, it will be necessary for you to bring in a sample for our horticulturists to examine. Please submit as much of the plant as possible (include leaves, stems and especially flowers, if present). Ensure that the plant remains in good condition and doesn’t dry out during transport.

Water Salinity Testing

The Santa Rosa County Extension Service offers free water salinity testing. This test measures the salt level in your well water. Collect a sample of your well water by allowing the water to flow for several minutes and collect approximately 2 cups in a clean container. Submit to any of the Extension offices. A Master Gardener will advise you of the results generally within a few days.

Permanent link to this article: http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/diagnostic-testing/