Soil Testing

Asked May 21, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

I have downloaded your manure management. I`m looking for a place to get good soil tests. I`ve used Penn State but I`m not very happy with them. I would like to find a place that knows your MMP program and what I need for the program. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Warren County Pennsylvania animal manure management

1 Response

Hello, your question on the national system was routed back home to PA.

Sorry to hear that you are not happy with the Penn State Soil Test. Our lab typically does work of the highest quality. If you have any specific questions about your report please contact me directly and I'll see if I can help with interpretation of the test results.

You mention that you downloaded 'your' manure management plan. If the download is from the national eXtension or Livestock and Poultry Environment Learning Center then it may not meet Pennsylvania requirements. In 2011, the state Department of Environmental Protection released a standard - and required - Manure Management Plan (MMP) format. The Manure Management Manual contains the MMP as well as detailed instructions for its completion.

Here is a link to resources:
http://panutrientmgmt.cas.psu.edu/manure_management_program.htm

Within that same page is this folder containing MMP writing materials
http://panutrientmgmt.cas.psu.edu/manure_management_plan_writing.htm

In the 2nd link there are also Nutrient Balance Worksheets that are a little harder to complete but they can be used as a supplement to the Application Rate Tables found in the Manure Management Manual. So, you have 2 manners in which you can determine application rates. Some producers prefer the Worksheets because it allows them to get a better feel for nutrient balances compared to the table values. Also, since you are soil testing I can guess that you have an interest in this type of calculation. If you haven't done so, you may want to have your manure tested too.

Soil tests will not provide a Nitrogen value since the nutrient is so dynamic in the soil. In Pennsylvania soil test results for Phosphorus should be in parts per million (ppm) and conducted with the Mehlich-3 Soil Test. Reports that are not in ppm can be converted mathematically to this value.

Finally, to answer your question: It is best to use a lab in the region in which you live since their tests will be calibrated to soils in the region (you don't want to use one from the west coast or a more arid area even if they may be cheaper). There are several other great labs besides the Penn State Ag Analytical Service. Here at the two that I am most familiar with:

Spectrum Analytical (Ohio)
http://www.spectrumanalytic.com/services/analysis/agsoil.html

Agri Analysis Inc (Lancaster Co, PA)
http://www.agrianalysis.com

I'll include the Penn State site too
http://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing/environmental-soil-testing

I work quite a bit with manure management. Please contact me directly if you have questions or want further clarification. If you have greater interest in manure management consider attending next year's North American Manure Expo (http://www.manureexpo.org) which will be held in Chambersburg, PA on July 15, 2015.

Thanks for taking the initiative to manage your manure to minimize environmental risk while optimizing production.