FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, FEB. 11, 2014
Contact: David H. Hardy, Ph.D., Soil Testing Section chief
NCDA&CS Agronomic Division
It's still a good time to submit soil samples
Results available within two weeks
RALEIGH—The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is processing soil samples at an unprecedented pace. Growers who submit samples now will have their soil test report within two weeks. That turnaround provides plenty of time for scheduling lime applications and fertilizer orders.
Historically, turnaround times have reached six to nine weeks for several months in winter. So last fall, the Agronomic Services Division instituted a $4 peak-season fee that went into effect just before Thanksgiving and will remain until April 1. As a result, more samples came in before the November holiday and significantly fewer arrived in December and January.
As intended, these factors have dramatically improved the lab’s peak-season processing time. From July 1, 2013, to early February, the lab analyzed about 262,000 soil samples, 11 percent more than during the same period a year ago.
Dr. David Hardy, Soil Testing Section chief, is encouraged that the fee helped the lab avoid a winter crush. “I think the fee was a great incentive for growers to sample earlier,” he said. “Since the fee went into effect, I estimate that the sample load has decreased 80 to 90 percent. This helped us to still process a large volume of samples while getting growers the information they need in a timely fashion.”
Growers who still need to submit samples in preparation for spring planting are urged to take advantage of the speedy sample processing available from the department’s lab. Reports will be generated and posted within two weeks as long as samples are prepaid. Instructions for online submission of sample and payment information are available on the Agronomic Services Division website, www.ncagr.gov/agronomi.
The division will use the peak-season soil fees to further improve sample-turnaround times. So far, the fee has helped with computer programming, the purchase of a pH robot and hiring of seasonal lab staff.