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Butler County

Fertilizer and Soil Testing

Soil is home to bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and other microorganisms. These living organisms hold moisture, retain and make nutrients available for plants, increase water and oxygen to the soil, produce growth-promoting hormones for the plants, and prevent soil from erosion. Building a healthy soil prior to planting will help plants grow. Add compost and have your soil tested to determine what your yard needs. We recommend that you test your soil every 3-5 years.

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What is a soil test?
A soil test measures soil pH and available nutrients in the soil. It cannot identify insects, diseases, or chemical pollutants, and cannot answer questions about soil composition, drainage or compaction.

Why test the soil?
Testing the soil gives you accurate information about the type and amount of fertilizer or amendment to apply in order to maintain good plant health. This helps protect the environment, and can lead to success in your lawn and garden. 

For more information on Soil Testing visit our Soil Testing Resources.

Frequently Asked Soil Questions

Can I apply gypsum to help with my tight clay soil?

Gypsum does not help with compaction or otherwise "loosening up" a heavy clay soil. Large amounts of gypsum and high quality irrigation water will help improve the soil structure in a clay soil that has been contaminated with sodium, but that is not the case for the vast majority of our clay soils. The best way to improve a heavy clay soil is by regularly applying or incorporating organic matter and practicing core aeration in lawn areas.

Can I add sand to my clay soil to help improve the texture?

No! Adding sand to a clay soil can be very detrimental. It will usually result in a soil that is even harder and more like concrete than a looser, sandy soil. The best way to improve a clay soil is by adding organic matter.

What can I do to help my soil drain better?

The best ways to improve soil and landscape drainage are:

  • Incorporate organic matter
  • Use berms and raised beds
  • Install swales or drains to help water move away from your yard



Organic products are popular, even for turfgrass. This segment looks at some of the main differences between organic and synthetic lawn fertilizers. No matter what you choose, it's important to use the right amount of fertilizer at the right time in order to have a lush, green lawn.

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Have questions? Contact our office where our Horticulture Extension Agent will assist you with questions.

Phone: (316) 321-9660

Email: callae@ksu.edu