Loyola University Chicago

Institute of Environmental Sustainability

FAQ

Loyola Environmental Testing Lab

Fresh samples in a sealed containers will yield the most accurate results. For samples that must be stored or shipped, you should freeze samples as soon as possible after sampling. Then ship the still frozen sample to LETL.

Samples can be shipped to LETL or dropped off in the lobby of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability. 

Shipping Address
Loyola Environmental Testing Lab
ATTN: Zhenwei Zhu
6349 North Kenmore
Chicago, IL 60660

 

Drop Off Address

Institute of Environmental Sustainability
6349 North Kenmore
Chicago, IL 60660

Look for the collection shelves in the lobby.

Regular testing helps develop and maintain more productive soils for farming, gardening, and landscaping. Soil tests indicate whether plant nutrients are deficient and, if so, what amounts are needed for optimum growth. Soil testing is also a useful diagnostic tool to identify problems related to excessive levels of nutrients and salts, high pH, low organic matter, and poor drainage. When properly interpreted, soil tests increase profits in agricultural production systems and promote more favorable conditions for productive and esthetically pleasing gardens and landscapes.

We recommend a routine test package for general sampling situations. The routine package measures soil pH (acidity or alkalinity), salinity (salt level), lime, texture class, and plant-available phosphorus and potassium. Interpretations and recommendations are made based on the test results and background site information you provide with the sample. A complete soil test package is also available which includes all of the tests in the routine package as well as available (nitrate) nitrogen, micronutrients (iron, copper, manganese, and zinc), sulfate-sulfur, and organic matter.

The best windows of opportunity for soil sampling are early spring and late fall. Field, garden, and landscape activities are limited during these periods, and samples can be collected and analyzed in time for fall or spring fertilization. Fall testing has the advantage of allowing the application and incorporation of fertilizers with fall tillage or winter precipitation. Spring testing, however, often provides a better indication of nutrient (especially nitrogen) availability immediately prior to plant growth. Regardless of when samples are collected, allow a minimum of two to three weeks for analyses, fertilizer purchase and application, and any other corrective measures to be taken before planting. Soil sampling can also be done during the growing season to aid in diagnosing plant growth problems. Landowners who observe a problem may want to sample the soil while symptoms are present to diagnose the problem and take corrective action during the current growing season. Plant tissue sampling and analysis can also be used to diagnose problems. Specific plant parts and collection and handling procedures are required for accurate tissue testing.

For perennial plants such as turf, trees, alfalfa, and pasture, soil should be tested prior to planting and once every two to three years. Soil testing prior to establishing perennials is particularly important since it provides an opportunity to incorporate immobile nutrients. For annuals such as corn, small grains, and gardens, soil should be tested once every two years. Generally, as the intensity of management increases so should the frequency of soil testing. Highly productive growers making frequent fertilizer, manure, or other soil amendment applications should test more frequently to monitor changing soil conditions and prevent the build-up of excess levels of nutrients or salts. Growers should keep soil test records for all areas sampled, as well as fertilizer application and plant yield and quality information. This allows growers to relate yield and plant performance to soil test results and fertilization practices. Since soils and grower management practices vary widely, knowing what soil test values correspond with optimum plant performance on a site allows the grower to customize a soil management program for individual production systems.

If you have additional questions, please contact us.