NC Ag Commissioner Encouraging Early Soil Testing
We have been talking for months now about how wet it has been this year. Its created a lot of problems in the fields. One of them is our soil is being depleted of nutrients.
“We have had a lot of soil nutrient reserves that had leached out so soil sampling is even more important this year than any other year. The sooner they can be done the better. We have the staff and the lab capabilities to get these samples done out on time.
But we want to spread the sample load out, especially in the early fall when we are not as busy as in the peak months. We have made it so if you get the samples in early, there is a better turn around and you can make better decisions. The incentive to do this, beginning this fall, we will charge a peak season fee of $4 per sample for soil samples processed November 28 thru March 31. The good news is that from April until November no fee will be imposed. We want people to bring their samples in early so that we have enough time to run them. The General Assembly approved this peak season fee in the most recent appropriations bill.
We have done everything that we can within the division and even bringing in help from other divisions to try to get the samples completed. The turn around time that we are seeing in the later time period is just unacceptable. People need to make decisions on applications and we haven’t been able to get them back timely.
Last year we processed 368,000 soil samples, about 60% came in between December and March. At that point, we were slowed down to a turn around time of 9 weeks. Other times of the year we are able to get them back in about 2-4 weeks. I want to spread the sampling out to a point that its manageable.
The fee will enhance the long term prospects of the soil testing program. They will be used for improvements like automated equipment and additional peak season personnel.”