Laboratory soil test methods

Soil sampling and analysis provide chemical and physical information about your soil quality.

Soil testing involves the analysis of soil samples to determine their characteristics, such as texture, stability, plant nutrients, fertility, acidity or alkalinity, or toxicities and contaminants. The results from soil testing can be important for many purposes, ranging from agricultural and horticultural productivity through geotechnical and engineering to environmental forensics. Soil tests can answer a variety of questions, such as:

  • Does this soil have the right properties to grow a profitable crop, sustain livestock, or for revegetation after development or disturbance?
  • What fertiliser or ameliorants should I apply, and how much, to get the best yields for my crops without contaminating the soil?
  • Will building foundations or engineered soil structures such as dams or banks remain stable if I build them out of this soil material?
  • Does this soil present an environmental hazard because of its unusual characteristics, such as salinity or Acid Sulfate Soil potential?
  • Is this soil vulnerable to erosion by wind or water, and will it cause a downstream water pollution or sedimentation risk?
  • Does this soil represent a health hazard due to contamination with noxious chemicals or pollutants, such as lead, herbicides or pesticides?

OEH manages many thousands of soil test results from across NSW in the NSW Soil and Land Information System (SALIS), and makes them available through eSPADE.

OEH Environmental Protection Science branch operates the Soil Health and Archive environmental monitoring and general-purpose soil testing laboratory located at Yanco, as well as specialised forensic services at Lidcombe.

For more information
Environment Protection Science Branch
Contaminants and Risk Section
Phone: +61 2 9995 5000 (switchboard)

SALIS does not hold specific information about site contamination. The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) holds a public record of contaminated sites and can advise on the assessment and management of contaminated land. 

For more information about contaminated sites
NSW Environmental Protection Authority
Phone: 131 555
Website: EPA website: Contaminated land