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Washington State University

Soil & Compost


How to Collect Soil Samples

Collecting a Soil Sample
This video demonstrates the procedure for collecting a soil sample for nutrient analysis from a garden or small farm. Washington State University, 2010

Soil Sampling (pdf)
This publication provide guidance with taking a soil sample, analyzing the sample, interpreting the analysis, and making fertilizer recommendations. University of Idaho, 1994


Determining Soil Properties

Determining Soil Texture by Hand
This video provides instruction on how to determine the texture of your soil by working a soil sample with your hand. Washington State University, 2010

Estimating Soil Texture by Hand (pdf)
This document contains three flowcharts to assist with estimating soil texture by hand. Available in Spanish and English. Washington State University

The Sponge Analogy for Soil Moisture
This video explains the role of soil pores in water movement and water holding capacity using a sponge as an analogy. Washington State University, 2010


Soil Testing Laboratories

Testing Laboratories and Consultants
Searchable database of regional testing labs and consultants.


Interpreting Soil Test Results

Soil Test Interpretation Guide (pdf)
This publication provides general guidelines for interpreting soil test results and the importance using the same laboratory for analysis. Oregon State University Extension, August 1999


General Soil Information

Soil Management for Small Farms (pdf)
Subjects include: soil and water; what affects the porosity of soil and its effects on irrigation; site and landscape factors; western Washington soils; soil organisms; nutrient management, fertilizers, and manures; adding organic matter; soil pH and liming. Washington State University Extension, 2000

The Soil Biology Primer
This publication is an introduction to the living component of soil and how it contributes to agricultural productivity and air and water quality. USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service

Building Soils for Better Crops, 3rd Edition (pdf)
This publication provides step-by-step information on soil improving practices as well as in-depth background from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. University of Vermont, 2009

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Soils
This website is part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey, an effort of Federal and State agencies, universities, and professional societies to deliver science-based soil information. It had an extensive amount of information on soil types, classification, maps, soil quality, state soils, soils uses, etc.

WSU Organic Farming Systems and Nutrient Management
The goal of this program is to build soil productivity, support local agriculture, protect water quality, and facilitate recycling of organic wastes, by applying soil science principles to agricultural development, and waste management issues. Washington State University Puyallup



General Compost Information

Manure Compost Marketing Guide (pdf)
This handbook is intended as a guide for composters seeking to market their product. WSU Whatcom County Extension & Whatcom Conservation District

Compost Operators Training
Training and certification for compost facility operators, managers, and officials involved with composting. Washington State University Puyallup

The Art and Science of Composting (pdf)
This publication describes the composting process, general guidelines, methods as well as other relevant topics. University of Wisconsin-Madison, March 2002

Washington Organic Recycling Council
This membership organization is dedicated to the support and promotion of all aspects of organic recycling.

Backyard Composting (pdf)
This publication is a how-to guide for backyard and small-scale composting. Washington State University, Revised 2009


Compost Analysis

What Does Compost Tell You (pdf)
This poster provides information on how to sample a compost pile and explains the various laboratory tests used to evaluate compost quality.


Herbicide Contamination

Herbicide Contamination of Dairy Derived Organic Matter in Whatcom County
This website provides information on the issues Whatcom County has experience with aminopyralid contaminated dairy organic matter (manure, composted manure, silage) applied to broadleaf crops. It provides a detail of symptoms and steps to test organic matter. WSU Whatcom County Extension

Clopyralid in Compost
This website provides information on issues relating to clopyralid contaminated compost and photos of symptomatic plants. Washington State University Puyallup