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WVU Soil Testing Lab Changes

Attention West Virginia Residents & Customers

As of September 2018, the  WVU Soil Testing Lab has made some changes, and here's what you need to know for an effective, informative soil test.

New Online Fillable PDF Submission Form

A person tills dirt with a motorized tiller.

The WVU Soil Testing Lab has a revised soil sample submission form. The easiest thing for you to do is fill out the form online, save a copy with your customer data to your computer and then use that saved version to generate a form for each new soil sample you submit. Include an email address to receive your results as quickly as possible. If your crop is hay, pasture, corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, oats, small grain silage or grain sorghum, it is important to provide the predominant soil series in the field where you collected the soil sample to receive the best possible recommendations.

Instructions to find your predominant soil series are available online.

New Crop Codes

Many new crop codes have been added, including individual vegetable crops, small fruits and wildlife food plots. If you are sending in a sample of your home garden, continue to use the “home garden” crop code. Do not use multiple crop codes for individual vegetable crops. The electronic form only allows a single crop code. Fertilizer recommendations for lawns and gardens and commercial horticulture crops are not based on soil type.

New, Improved Recommendations

The WVU Soil Testing Lab is changing from the Mehlich I to the Mehlich III soil test extraction method. Will this change the fertilization recommendations? Not really, although the reported soil concentrations will be different and have a different unit. Extractable or plant available nutrients will now be reported as parts per million of the element (e.g.,15 ppm P) instead of pounds per acre of the oxide form (e.g.,15 lbs/acre P2O5).

The biggest difference you will notice on your new soil test report is the addition of two fertilizer recommendations. These are “crop sufficiency rate” and “build to optimum rate.” The crop sufficiency rate is the smallest amount of fertilizer needed to achieve the expected crop yield in a typical year. This amount needs to be applied every year to ensure adequate soil fertility. This is probably best the best choice for rented land that may or may not be available next year. The build to optimum rate will increase soil test concentrations until they are in the optimum zone, where additional fertilizer would not be recommended. This is probably the best choice for land you own, will have access to for several years or when fertilizer prices are low because it allows you to skip fertilization for one year. It would also allow you to cycle through fields with manure applications.

New Lime Recommendations

The lime requirement is given in tons of "effective neutralizing value" lime per acre. This is to emphasize that not all lime contains 100 percent readily available calcium carbonate. Adjust this rate based on the purity and fineness of the agricultural lime you are applying. Ask your county agent to show you how to make this calculation.

New Soil Test Report Delivery System

Soil test reports will now be sent directly to the email address you supply on the sample submission form and to your county Extension agent. The WVU Soil Testing Lab will never share this information with others, it’s simply a way for us to speed up the reporting process.

Get Help With Your Soil Test

Finally, different isn’t always better, but in this case, we are confident you will come to appreciate the changes we have made. If you have questions or concerns, please ask. At the bottom of the second page of the new soil test recommendation report you will find the name, phone number and email address of a county agricultural agent who can assist with interpretation of your results.