If the laboratory does not receive a representative sample of the whole stockpile, golf green
or football pitch, misleading results may be obtained.

Stockpile Sampling

The outer 15cm of the pile should be pulled back and a plastic tube inserted into the pile. Withdraw the tube and empty the sample into a large clean container (a large strong plastic bag is ideal). A minimum of 8 samples should be removed from different sections and levels of the stockpile and collected together in the plastic bag. Close the plastic bag and shake gently end over end several times to thoroughly mix the sample. Remove a sub-sample of the required size for testing. This reduced sample should be bagged, labelled clearly and submitted for testing.

The detailed USGA document “Quality Control Sampling of Sand and Rootzone Mixture Stockpiles” (J. Moore, 2002) is available. If you require a copy, please let us know.

Golf Green Or Pitch Sampling

An auger or similar tool should be used to remove samples up to 6” deep in a random fashion across the area to be tested (a W pattern over the area is suggested). The turf and thatch should be removed and the cores combined to form a composite sample of the green or area of the pitch to be tested. These should be bagged, labelled clearly and submitted for testing.

The amounts required for each test are:

  • Full USGA Test – 2kgs
  • Best Mix Ratio Rootzone Design
    • 5kgs of Sand
    • 1litre of Organic/Inorganic Amendment
    • 1 kg Sand / Gravel

Plant Parasitic Nematode Sampling

Ideally take the sample using bulked hollow tine cores at a depth of at least 8cm again using a W pattern over the area to be tested (approx 1⁄2 kg will be sufficient). These should be collected in a clean plastic bag, labelled clearly, packed tightly and submitted for testing.

It is best to take samples from the affected area and unaffected area.

Fungal Disease Sampling

Use a hole-changer core to take a sample to a depth of at least 8cm. The sample should be wrapped tightly in dry newspaper, labelled clearly, packed tightly and submitted to the laboratory as quickly as possible. The grass should be kept free from contamination from the rootzone as much as possible.

If the sward is damaged in discrete circles or patches, please take the core sample from the leading edge of the symptoms – this means that half of the core will display the damaged turf and the other half will show the unaffected turf around the outside.

Do not use hollow tine cores for this type of analysis as they provide very few intact plants.

Irrigation Water Sampling

Use a clean container to take your sample. The container (approx. 500ml) should be rinsed using the actual water to be tested. Complete this several times.

Take the actual sample of water, ensuring that the bottle is full. Wrap the bottle in tinfoil or a black bag to keep out sunlight. If the bottled water is open to sunlight, this can promote biological activity, which may affect the pH and concentration of the ions present. Keep the bottle as cool as possible – some customers freeze the water prior to sending. The water sample should be sent to ETL as quickly as possible to prevent deterioration – express courier service is recommended.

Sending Samples to ETL

  1. After taking your samples (see Sampling advice), place sample in
    a clean plastic bag, attach or fix the sample identification to the OUTSIDE of the bag.
    Remove any air from the plastic bag and seal securely.
  2. Download and print our Sample Identification Notes.
    To avoid any leakages from the bag, ETL recommend wrapping the samples in another
    plastic bag.
  3. Download and print our Customer Details Form.
    Please fill out this form and send it with your samples.
    Remember, if your company is based outside of the UK, but in the EC, we will require
    your company VAT number.
  4. Pack bags tightly in a box, or padded envelope. The samples should not be able to
    move around within the container. We recommend using old newspapers, bubble
    wrap or polystyrene foam chips. Place your Customer Details form in the top of the
  5. Secure the box or package, so that samples will not be damaged during transit.
  6. If your company is based outside of the EC, you will require a copy of ETL’s Foreign Soil
    To obtain this licence, please contact ETL to request this form. We can either
    fax or email this form to you. When you have received this form, the licence should be
    clearly displayed on the outside of the box. Make sure the licence number is visible.
  7. You can opt to either post samples or have a courier collect the samples for delivery.
    Your company should pay the cost of the delivery to ETL.
  8. Please send your package to:
    European Turfgrass Laboratories Ltd
    Unit 6, Millar Court
    Alloa Business Park
    The Whins
    FK10 3SA
    Scotland, UK

    A Printable Address Label is available.
  9. Notify the staff at ETL that your samples are on their way by telephone, fax (see top of page for numbers) or emailing

Latest News

Organic Matter Testing #3

In this, our third article on organic matter, agronomist, Charles Henderson will cover the complex subject of its reduction. Organic matter, in general, is on the increase. Therefore, this makes the reduction of organic matter in greens, relevant to over 90% of us who are involved in managing golf (and bowling) greens, an extremely important subject. Read More.

Organic Matter Testing #2

In part two of our organic matter series, Charles Henderson discusses the relationship between moisture content and the organic matter accumulation in our greens. We will also look at how this affects some of the management decisions we make when trying to manage both moisture and organic matter content in our greens. Read full article

Organic Matter Testing #1

Organic matter or the build-up of thatch, remains a dominant issue across many sports disciplines, but has our knowledge and understanding of it moved with the times? Read full article

ETL offering Golf Green Health Indexing packages

Please visit our Golf Green Health Indexing page for full details

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