We got soil samples tested at U Penn. Cornell Cooperative Extension does nutrient testing as well, but Penn has a wider variety of tests for contamination. In addition to testing for lead and mercury, we tested for PCBs, arsenic, cadmium, and other heavy metals. This is overkill for most properties, but the farm is close to a former state hospital (which kept it’s own power plant and landfill).
We took several samples from spots throughout the fields and mixed them together. We took soil from several spots in the woods as well, and kept those separate. It was raining the day we took the samples, so we had to leave them drying on cookie sheets in the kitchen several days before mailing them in.
The results came back pretty quickly – with good news. No contamination of any kind in the fields or forests.
The soil isn’t super rich in nutrients, but there is a giant pile of (chemical-free) horse manure on the property, as well as a fair amount of old hay, to start composting and enriching. The pH is slightly acidic, as expected.