Conservation Matters October 2015

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Watershed partnerships offering free area soil testing

Watershed partnerships offering free area soil testing

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is offering free soil testing in the Geronimo and Alligator creeks Watershed and the Arroyo Colorado Watershed.

The Geronimo and Alligator Creeks Watershed Partnership is offering free soil testing now until Nov. 17 to area farmers, ranchers and homeowners.

“A soil test will give you the necessary information on what levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and other nutrients are in your soil,” said Ward Ling, AgriLife Extension program specialist and watershed coordinator for Geronimo and Alligator Creeks.

Ling said samples must be submitted by Nov. 17 in a soil sample bag that can be obtained at AgriLife Extension offices in Comal and Guadalupe counties. Lab results will be made available for pickup on Dec. 8 at the Guadalupe County AgriLife Extension office. A short presentation at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at that office will provide participants with information on how to interpret the lab results.

In the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership is offering free soil testing from now until Jan. 31, 2016 for agricultural producers in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties, said Victor Gutierrez, AgriLife Extension assistant for the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI). TWRI manages several projects for the Arroyo Colorado Watershed Partnership.

Gutierrez said producers may pick up forms and sample bags at their local AgriLife Extension office or the AgriLife District 12 office in Weslaco. Once the soil has been collected, the bags may be dropped off at the same office. Results will be mailed to the producers within one to two weeks.

Ling said a short YouTube video on how to properly collect a soil sample can be found on and directions are listed on the back of the soil sample bag.

“It is important that people having their soil tested pay attention to and follow proper directions for obtaining a soil sample,” Ling said.

He said having a soil test will help area landowners determine how much, if any, fertilizer is needed, as well as what kind should be used.

“Fertilizer is expensive, costing around a dollar a pound or more, and it comes in varying types and concentrations,” Ling said. “To help make sense of all of this, you first need to test your soil to see what the nutrient content is before deciding if more is needed — and how much.”

The soil testing is made available to area residents as a result of the implementation of an Environmental Protection Agency-approved watershed protection plan, Ling said. An EPA grant was provided to AgriLife Extension by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB) to facilitate the implementation of the Geronimo and Alligator Creeks watershed protection plan.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley campaign is funded by a Clean Water Act grant provided by the TSSWCB and EPA.

For more information on the Geronimo and Alligator Creeks testing, contact Ling at 979-845-6980 or For more information on the Lower Rio Grande Valley testing, contact Gutierrez at 956-969-5615 or

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