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Plant parasitic nematodes live in soil or plant parts that they infect. The process of taking a soil sample for nematode assay involves collecting random sub-samples in a zigzag pattern, from the area in question similar to the procedure that would be used for a soil sample for nutrient analysis.

Sampling techniques should have backing from diagnostic and identification laboratory to obtain quick and reliable plant-parasitic nematodes and pathogens identification. Auger samplers are used to obtain soil cores for pathogens and nematode population studies at different depths. The soil cores should be obtained from top first foot (12 inches) where most of soil inhabiting pathogens and nematodes live. Second and third samples may collect by obtaining soil cores from as deep as second foot (12-24 inches) and third foot (24-36 inches) to ascertain that the deeper seated nematodes are also covered.

Fields should be divided into areas of 5 Acres or less for sampling and separate samples should be taken from areas with different cropping histories, soil types/treatments applied, or crop health. For uniform fields of up to 5 acres, 10 to 20 cores (sub-samples) should be taken.

Soil cores are collected in a bucket, bag or other container that is easy to carry while walking up and down the field. Various sampling schemes such as collecting a core at regular intervals along a “W” or “zig-zag pattern” have been used. Various patterns to obtain soil samples is depicted below.

Combine the sub-samples for a particular sample as they are collected. When sub-samples are collected, mix the soil thoroughly and place approximately 1 pint (~500 cc) into a quart-sized plastic bag. Bags should be sealed to retain soil moisture and kept out of direct sunlight – placing samples into a small insulated cooler (without ice) is a safe and convenient method for protecting the samples until they can be sent to the laboratory. Label each sample on the outside of the sampling or plastic bag with your name, address, field ID (or other short sample identifier) and date of collecting. Ziploc storage bags are ideal for this use. You may also use standard laboratory soil collection sampling bags.

Notes to Sampling, Handling and Storage of samples

  • For plant-parasitic testing samples (nematodes, fungi, and bacteria), fresher is better.
  • When sub-samples are collected, mix the soil gently and thoroughly then place approximately a quart-sized into sampling bag or a plastic bag.
  • Sampling bags or plastic zip bags are proper [do not use cloth or paper bags].
  • Seal bags to prevent drying and protect samples from heat and/or freeze, also protect samples from direct sunlight.
  • Placing samples into a small insulated cooler (without ice) is a safe and convenient method for protecting the sample until it can be sent to the laboratory.
  • If samples are only collected for "soil DNA analysis" keeping them in a cooler with ice or into a refrigerator.
  • Nematode soil sample does not need to be refrigerated unless liable to be exposed to high temperatures or if it cannot be dispatched promptly.
  • Sample volume: 1 pint (2 cups or ~500cc) for both Nematode and soil DNA analysis; a quart or 2 pints (4 cups or ~1,000cc) for all Soil properties, Nematode and soil DNA analysis.
  • For a root test, at least 4 oz. (~100 grams) of fine feeder roots will be needed, especially include roots showing symptoms such as galling, thickening, bunching, soil adherence etc.
  • Perishable plant samples especially need to be sent promptly & be refrigerated.
  • Label the bag as appropriate and complete a Testing Submission Form with the test required, sample ID, depth, crop type, mailing address, phone number, email address, etc.
  • Do not put paper labels inside the sampling bag.
  • Send the samples promptly to the laboratory.
  • To ensure samples are promptly processed, pre-book tests and preferably collect and dispatch samples early in the week.

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