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Your Soil Report - Where Does It Come From?

Posted Dec. 1, 1996

One of the goals of the Noble Research Institute soil testing program is to enable agricultural producers to become better stewards of the land, and hopefully improve it for future generations. Understanding how our soil testing service functions is important. Acquisition of a high quality sample rests with the person taking the sample. We have an excellent Noble Research Institute-produced video available titled 'Soil Sampling'. It describes in detail how to properly obtain, handle, and ship soil samples.

This video is a "must" for all who desire quality soil test results. Noble Research Institute Agricultural Division - Agriculture Testing Services employee Judy Vance receives your samples and completed Soil Sample Entry Forms via mail or direct drop-off. The Soil Sample Entry Form should always be included with the samples to identify the sender/locations and reduce confusion associated with the large numbers of samples we receive.

Data on the entry form also provides additional information to the soil fertility specialists during the recommendation phase. Judy properly processes and catalogs the samples into our computer database and submits them to a private laboratory working under contract with the Agricultural Division (currently Ward Laboratories, Kearney, NE).

Although the soil testing analytical procedures are completed by the private laboratory, all recommendations are made by Noble Research Institute soil fertility specialists. All questions concerning results from Agricultural Testing Services should be directed to soil fertility specialists.

Analytical results from samples are carefully scrutinized by Judy once they are received from the laboratory. Results are then entered into our database. Internal "blind check samples" that have a "known result" are submitted with regular samples to the laboratory on an intermittent basis in order to help maintain quality control.

On occasion, the soil fertility specialists meet as a group, discuss the quality control of the check samples, and determine if changes should be in order. A recent review of check sample results indicated that the reproducibility of laboratory results of check samples is very good. The private laboratory we contract with also has its own stringent internal standards that it carefully tracks. Together, our goal is to deliver to you a high quality soil test report based on the high quality soil sample you submitted.

Fertilizer/lime recommendations are then made by the soil fertility specialist. Many times, the producer's personal philosophy of maintaining or increasing soil test levels for some nutrients is taken into consideration. A primary objective of the fertilizer recommendation is profitability. This in turn, is based on the best information available (including data from the Soil Sample Entry Form) to the soil fertility specialist and to other team members at the time the recommendation is made. Soil testing is currently the best and least-expensive method of predicting a wide range of nutrient deficiencies and for diagnosing problem soils.

New nutrient deficiency diagnosis technologies are on the horizon, and may be available in the future. Today, however, you should take advantage of our services and use soil testing to fine tune your soil fertility management program for your farming or ranching operation. If anyone needs soil sample bags and/or Soil Sample Entry Forms, please call.

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