If you're sampling for soil carbon, be sure to use consistent sample preparation. For sampling methods, see our download section.
Upon taking a soil sample for carbon analysis, it is very important to dry it quickly and thoroughly. I typically spread it out on a plastic picnic plate with the sample bag stapled through the edge to the plate, so that the labeled bag and the sample DO NOT get separated, like this:
A sample is ready for preparation when it is thoroughly air-dry, and when the sealed bag is placed in the sun for 10 minutes and it does not fog up.
I usually prepare samples myself: for consistency, and to keep an archive sample--a backup in case of loss. This way I do not have to heavily insure packages sent in the mail.
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