Agriculture & Environment

Using a variety of educational deliveries including newsletters, websites, workshops, conferences, consultation, and clinics, our Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) specialists are engaged with farmers, researchers, organizations, agencies, agribusiness, and communities.

ANR Extension and Outreach plays an important role in providing research-based information and resources to educate Iowa and beyond. Our programs impact all Iowans, whether they live in a rural or urban area, and have been developed to improve our quality of life. Our areas of focus include: agricultural systems and environmental stewardship; crops; dairy production; farm, food and enterprise development; farm management; food safety; horticulture; beef production; swine production; and natural resources stewardship.

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woman dropping soil from her hand into the field

Soil Testing

Thank you for your inquiry about Soil Testing. Unfortunately, Iowa State University is not taking samples any longer. However, we are working to find some alternative soil testing labs that might work for our clients. Below are forms for three private sector testing labs. We recommend that you contact the company and view their webpage with any questions before submitting samples. These are not companies that we have used before so we ask that you research what you think will work best for you.

You are welcome to contact us with feedback to help us with suggestions in the future. Following that below is information from ISU including information on other Universities that offer soil testing. If you decide to submit samples to a lab and get results back that you need help interpreting please feel free to contact us and we will get you in touch with a specialist that can help you.

Soil Testing for Horticulture Crops

University Soil Labs

University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory 
University of Wisconsin Soil & Forage Analysis Lab 
Michigan State University Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory 

Private Soil Labs:

The labs listed here provide soil test results with recommendations specific to garden and lawn settings. Soil tests for home gardeners and commercial growers are conducted in the same way, but these labs can provide recommendations for home gardeners. This is not a complete list of laboratories and no endorsement is implied.  If you wish to add a soil testing lab to this list, please contact us

Waypoint Analytical
Frontier Labs 
A&L Great Lakes Laboratories 
Midwest Laboratories
Dairyland Laboratories 
SoilKit

 

For more information:https://hortnews.extension.iastate.edu/soil-testing-resources-home-gardeners

Publications

Here is a short list of other ISU lawn and garden publications that include fertilizer recommendations. That may relate to a homeowner’s particular situation.

Suggested soil micronutrient levels and sampling procedures for vegetable crops pub.14823
Planting a home vegetable garden pub.4134
Growing organic vegetables in Iowa pub.13761:  
Container Vegetable Gardening pub.4179:  
Small Plot Vegetable Gardening pub.4177
Crop rotations, composting and cover crops pub.14760:  
Organic mulches pub.5703:  
Organic Turfgrass Fertilization pub.14460:  
Responsible Phosphorus Management Practices for Lawns pub.4883:  
Thatch Control in the Home Lawn pub.5314: 
Establishing a Lawn from Seed pub.4396:  
Kentucky Bluegrass Lawns - Turfgrass Management Calendar pub.4383:  
Turfgrass Renovation pub.4376
Nonchemical Alternatives for the Home Lawn pub.5223

Publications regarding soil testing and fertilizer recommendations:

Garden Soil Management pub.4135:   
Lawn Fertilization pub. 4378
Take a Good Soil Sample to Help Make Good Fertilization Decisions Publication pub.3915

For more information, visit the Horticulture and Home Pest News website.

Questions? Call 319-337-2145 or email bielicke@iastate.edu

Soil Testing for Agronomic Crops
 

Soil Testing for Acreages… row crops, small grains, hay, pasture, commercial horticulture

For these crops, clients should use soil testing labs that maintain certification through IDALS. Labs have to use specified testing procedures and prove reliability/consistency with test results. IDALS runs blind soil sample tests through these labs on a regular basis. This list can change a bit over time as labs may occasionally fail the blind tests, but can return to the list with successful testing with IDALS next check.

Go to: https://iowaagriculture.gov/commercial-feed-and-fertilizer-bureau/commercial-fertilizer; on the right side of the website click on “Certified Soil Testing Laboratories”.  FYI, also of interest on this website is the “Ag Limestone Quarry Certification Report” which provides ECCE values for those calculating lime applications using local limestone quarries.

 

Using “Certified Soil Testing Laboratories” is important so that soil test results from these labs can be interpreted based on extensive ISU research, and able to use the ISU publication PM-1688, “A General Guide for Crop Nutrient and Limestone Recommendations in Iowa” to interpret their soil test and make economically sound recommendations.
This is a lengthy publication, but it might be helpful to any farmer (landlord, consultant, etc.) planning on soil testing their crop and pasture acres. And if a client is new to soil testing, another critical publication to provide is “Take a Good Soil Sample to Help Make Good Fertilization Decisions”: https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/3915

 

Regarding “Certified Labs”, ISU Extension office staff suggests using labs from the certified soil testing labs list that offer the “Field-Moist” (or Wet) potassium (K) test since this test is preferred over the “Dry” K test (oven dried samples). This reduces the list of labs to two:


VAS Agronomic Consulting  

 

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