The instructions tell you to take multiple soil samples in the area that you would like analyzed. I contacted Hans Walter-Peterson, who is the CCE Viticulture Specialist from the Finger Lakes Grape Program . I asked Hans at what depth I should take the samples for a backyard vineyard. Hans initially said that I should take two samples, one at 8-10 inches and another at 16-20 inches. Hans said that the deeper sample would be for informational purposes only, since I have an established vineyard, and also since it is not practical for a backyard vinyardist to amend the soil at a depth greater than 8-10 inches. When a new commercial vineyard is being planted, a deep soil sample is taken, and the deeper soil can be amended by using a very powerful tractor and a special plow that is called a subsoiler. That subsoiler plow will be able to turn over the soil at a depth of 18 inches or more. The tractor that pulls the plow needs to be 40 -50 horsepower per plow. I took 4 samples at different locations in my vineyard, at a depth of 8-10 inches, since that is the depth at which I can practically affect. I also didn't want to spend another $20 for the second soil analysis.
I was really surprised to see the difference in the texture and color of the 4 samples. The instructions tell you to dry out the samples, so you are not paying postage for mailing water.
I took out the larger stones, and weighed the four samples for consistency. Each sample weighed 90 grams.
I combined the samples and sent them in to the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Laboratory in Ithaca.
The following six images are documents that I scanned in. If you double click on a document, it will zoom in so you can read it.
This is the front side of the Directions for Soil Sample Directions
This is the back side of the Directions for Soil Sample Directions
This is the front side of the document that I sent in with the soil sample.
This is the back side of the document that I sent in with the soil sample.
This is the analysis document that was sent back to me the first time by the Cornell Lab.
They misspelled my last name and they incorrectly provided me with "PREPLANT" recommendations, instead of the "MAINTENANCE" recommendations that I requested. The type of recommendation that you are requesting is indicated by checking the option for either "Establishment of plants" or "Maintenance after planting" on the document that you send in with the soil sample.
This is the analysis document that was sent back to me the second time by the Cornell Lab.
They promptly corrected the spelling of my last name, and they provided me with the "MAINTENANCE" recommendations that I originally requested.
The time line is as follows:
03/13/09 - Picked up soil sample kit from Cornell Cooperative Extension
04/02/09 - Dug up soil samples and let them dry out overnight
04/03/09 - Blended the four soil samples and sent in the mailer to the Cornell Analysis Lab. The postage was $4.95.
04/21/09 - Received the first (incorrect recommendations) Analysis Report from Cornell.
04/23/09 - Received the second (correct recommendations) Analysis Report from Cornell.
One of the recommendations is to "Consult the current cornell recommendations in - the home fruit planting - available from your your cooperative extension agent." To make a long story short, it took me a week of emailing to find out how to obtain the "Cornell Guide to Growing Fruit at Home". It is available at: http://www.gardening.cornell.
It was worth the wait and effort to get the guide, it is very informative.
Per the soil analysis recommendations, I will apply Potash and 10-10-10 fertilizer annually.
I found the analysis to be worth the $20 it cost me.
An update to Soil Analysis - 01/31/2010
During 2009, The Cornell lab stopped performing soil analysis, and outsourced that function to Agro-One Soils Laboratory, a division of Dairy One.
This is the front page of the Sample Submission Form:
This is the back page of the Sample Submission Form:
This is an example of a Soil Analysis for a front lawn that will be have a garden and grape vines planted on it:
This is an example of a Soil Analysis for a pasture that will be converted to a Vinifera Grape vineyard:
This is an example of a Soil Analysis for an American Grape vineyard:
This is an example of a Soil Analysis for a Vinifera Grape vineyard: