Time to start planning for fall manure testing

Time to start planning for fall manure testing

Fall is also a good time for cornstalk nitrate testing and soil sampling.

Growers are busy preparing equipment for the fall harvest season, which means it's time to start planning for fall manure application and testing, as well as cornstalk testing and soil testing. Higher input costs and lower projected commodity prices are just two factors that support the benefits of fall testing.

"Properly identifying nutrient levels can help you make the best management decisions," notes Steve Peterson, vice president of lab services for AgSource Laboratories. "We recommend testing manure, cornstalks and soil in the fall because each analysis can help you evaluate your growing season and help you better plan for next year."

Manure testing is helpful and beneficial

PREPARE NOW: Before harvest begins is a good time to sample manure, send it to a lab and have it tested for nutrient content. You'll get the results back ahead of time so you can use the information when you apply manure later this fall.

Manure analysis is an excellent way to maximize the benefits of different nutrient sources and reduce negative environmental effects. With increased regulations, proper manure management is critical. Manure test results and manure application maps are important parts of a valuable nutrient management plan.

Accurate analysis is dependent on correct sampling procedures, says Peterson. Sample collection, preparation and shipping can influence the results. Instructions on how to take a representative sample can be found at agronomy.agsource.com. He offers the following quick tips, but also encourages you to read the more detailed instructions on the website.

Four important manure sampling tips

1) Plan ahead, sample early:  Collect and submit samples before the busy harvest season starts; this will reduce stress and headaches later on. It takes time to agitate and sample manure, especially from multiple locations. Allow enough time for the sample to get to the lab and be tested. Nutrient concentrations in stored manure are relatively stable, so a difference in weeks from sampling to application doesn't affect results.

 2) Use the proper container:  No glass containers! Please do not use old Gatorade bottles. Call the lab to order your plastic sample jars.

3) Label your samples: Full sample jars look very similar. Be sure to label and record sample numbers on the container and on the information sheet. When shipping the samples, seal the sample jar in a plastic bag but place the information sheet outside the bag. This will help keep the info sheet clean in case of a leak.

4) Handle samples carefully: Remember, manure is a biologically active material. It's best to collect the samples and send them to the lab the same day. Do not let manure samples sit in hot areas, such as a dashboard of a truck, for any period of time. If expedited shipping cannot occur, refrigerate or freeze samples until the time they can be shipped. Clearly label all containers and include a laboratory identification sheet with each sample.

AgSource is a leader in ag and environmental laboratory analysis and information management services, notes Peterson. A subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International, AgSource provides services to clients in the United States and across the globe. Learn more at agsource.com.

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