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Sampling Procedures

SAMPLING PROCEDURES

All sample submissions must include name, address, phone number, sample ID, and desired analysis. Email address is suggested for rapid return on reports but is not required.

SOIL SAMPLING PROCEDURES

  1. To take a soil sample, you will need a soil probe, soil auger, or shovel and a clean plastic bucket.
  2. Collect 10 to 15 cores (if using a probe or auger) or furrow slices (if using a spade) 0 to 8 inches deep from a representative area. Composite samples of 10 to 15 cores at 0 to 8 inches can be used to represent an area up to 40 acres. If soil types vary greatly within a field, we recommend using zone sampling to isolate differences in soil types.
  3. Surface soil samples should be taken to an 8-inch depth.
  4. Subsoil samples should be taken from 8 to 36 inches or 8 to 24 inches and 24 to 36 inches to test for residual nitrate.
  5. If cropping, fertilizing, and/or liming has not been applied uniformly in a field, then a separate sample should be taken from each management or soil area. If soil areas within a field are different in appearance (slope, drainage, color, or texture) each area
    should be sampled separately. Small areas may not need to be sampled, but they will give some indication of the variation within the field.
  6. Composite surface soil samples should consist of a mixture of about 10 to 15 soil cores. Composite subsoil samples for the nitrate test should consist of 8 to 10 cores. Mix these cores thoroughly and fill the sample bag. Label the bag correctly and use
    this same identification on the soil information sheet.
  7. Sample separately to avoid such areas as dead furrows, alkali spots, and terrace channels.
  8. Cloth or paper soil test bags or a quart size zip lock bag may be used. Include soil sample information sheets with all necessary information.
  9. Samples can be mailed to PO Box 788, Kearney, NE 68848 or shipped to or dropped off at 4007 Cherry Ave., Kearney, NE 68847

Please use one of the following soil sample submittal forms below. The “With Recommendations” form allows you to specify crop information as well as yield goals per acre.

With Recommendations Without Recommendations

SOIL HEALTH SAMPLING PROCEDURES

  1. Collect all your samples for comparison on the same day if possible. Samples may be collected on different days but try to keep sampling events to one week or less if comparisons are to be made between the samples. This reduces changes that may take place if moisture or temperature fluctuates between sampling times.
  2. Use a standard soil core sampler. DO NOT use any form of lubricants on the soil core sampler.
  3. Take 10 to 15 cores 0 to 6 inches or 0 to 8 inches deep next to the plants or near the rooting structures. You may also choose the same depth that is normally used for a topsoil sample if it is consistent. Composite samples of 10 to 15 cores at 0 to 6 or 0 to 8 inches can be used to represent an area up to 40 acres. If soil types vary greatly within a field, we recommend using zone sampling to isolate differences in soil types.
  4. Combine all the cores, preferably in a zip lock freezer bag or plastic-lined paper soil bag. DO NOT use cloth bags for submitting soil health samples.
  5. Add all sample identification information you need to the sample bag and place in a cooler (a Styrofoam cooler with a lid works fine) or a regular box if shipment times are relatively quick.
  6. Mark each sample and the shipping container with the specific soil health test(s) you wish to run to ensure proper handling once the sample arrives at the lab.
  7. If sampling for PLFA analysis when temperatures are above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, freeze samples prior to shipping and use dry ice/ice packs unless shipping overnight.
  8. Samples should remain near original soil temperature if left unfrozen. Dry ice / ice packs can be used if sampling during hot weather. Remember to treat all samples equally for individual sampling periods.
  9. Samples may be frozen in a standard freezer for storage prior to shipment. This is especially useful and should be done if samples are being taken at different times.
  10. Samples can be mailed to PO Box 788, Kearney, NE 68848 or shipped to or dropped off at 4007 Cherry Ave., Kearney, NE 68847

Please use one of the following soil sample submittal forms below. The “With Recommendations” form allows you to specify crop information as well as yield goals per acre.

With Recommendations Without Recommendations

FEED SAMPLING PROCEDURES

  1. It is important to provide a representative feed sample to produce accurate nutritional information for livestock management. Before retrieving samples, consult with Ward Laboratories, Inc. personnel and/or follow procedures from a reliable source such as extension resources or the National Forage Testing Association (www.foragetesting.org). Several staff members at Ward Laboratories, Inc. are Certified Hay Samplers and can guide you through the sampling process.
  2. Define ‘lots’ of feed to obtain a representative sample. A lot can consist of hay baled from a specific field, a stall of corn silage, a shipment of distiller’s grains or a ration mix. Group your feeds as similarly as possible to distinguish each lot. For example, if you have one alfalfa field and another grass hay field you intend to bale, each field will represent a ‘lot’ and should be sampled
    separately. Do not mix them.
  3. Each sample should be composed of several subsamples to properly represent the lot due to variation in all feeds. The National Forage Testing Association recommends a combination of 20 sub-samples as the sample for laboratory testing of hays and forages. For other feeds that are less variable in nature such as corn grain or distillers’ by-products, 5 to 10 sub samples maybe acceptable. Always use a hay probe when sampling baled feeds and a scoop of some type for other feed samples to avoid missing fine materials with hand grabbed sub samples. Subsamples should be taken randomly. Do not target “good looking spots” or avoid “bad looking spots”.
  4. Ensure samples are taken from the outside of the bale or feed pile as well as from 12 to 18 inches inside the lot.
  5. If sampling baled hay, it is best to use a hay probe, which can be purchased from Ward Laboratories, Inc. Producers located near Ward Laboratories, Inc. may borrow a hay probe free of charge.
  6. Once you have obtained your sample place it in a quart size zip lock bag and send it to the laboratory for testing.

Hay

BALES: Sample 20 bales from each lot. Core all rectangular bales from the end and all round bales from the twine surface. Mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure to obtain a representative sample for analysis.

LOOSE HAY STACKS: Select 4 stacks from each cutting for sampling. Collect at least 3 core samples from the side of each stack, mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure.

Silage

UPRIGHT SILO: Take random scoops of silage while unloading. Mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure.

HORIZONTAL SILO: Remove a column 6 inches by 12 inches wide on the open end of the silo. Mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure.

BUNK SAMPLE: Take 6 – 8 grab samples from the bunk(s) as the ration is being unloaded. Mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure.

GRAIN SAMPLE: Take 5 random hand samples from the bin or truck. Mix the samples thoroughly and use the alternate shoveling or quartering procedure.

Please use one of the following feed / NIR sample submittal forms below. The “With Packages” form allows you to specify which specific feed testing package you are looking to run.

Feed Testing

QUARTERING PROCEDURE

Sometimes when forages and feeds are sampled, the total of the aggregate samples is too large and bulky to send into the laboratory. The total sample size can be properly reduced and still maintain a representative sample.

  1. Mix the entire sample thoroughly.
  2. Pour it into a pile on clean paper or plastic.
  3. Divide the sample into four equal parts (quarters), saving the opposite two quarters.
  4. If the sample is still too large, repeat the procedure until the proper sample size of one
    pint to a quart is obtained.
  5. All samples should be placed in an airtight plastic bag and submitted to the laboratory
    for analysis.

Please use one of the following feed / NIR sample submittal forms below. The “With Packages” form allows you to specify which specific feed testing package you are looking to run.

LEAF & PLANT TISSUE SAMPLING PROCEDURE

Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Corn Seedling stage
(Less than 12″)
All the above ground portion 20 – 30
Prior to tasseling The top leaf with collar 15 – 25
From tasseling to early silking The entire leaf at the ear (or immediately below it) 15 – 25
Sampling after silks brown is not recommended.
Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Soybeans or other beans Seedling stage
(Less than 12″)
All the above ground portion 20 – 30
Initial flowering Two or three fully developed leaves at the top of the plant 20 – 30
Sampling after pods begin to fill is not recommended.
Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Small Grain Seedling stage
(Less than 12″)
All the above ground portion 50 – 100
Boot to heading The above ground portion 20 – 30
Sampling after pods begin to fill is not recommended.
Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Hay, pasture or forage grasses Just prior to seed head emergence or 4 to 6 weeks after clipping Whole tops 20 – 30
Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Alfalfa Bud stage to 1st flower The upper 1/3 of the plant 15 – 25
Field Crop Stage of Growth Plant Part to Sample No. of Plants to Sample
Milo Very early heading Second leaf from top of plant 15 – 25

Please use the following plant tissue sample submittal form found below.

Plant Tissue

STALK NITRATE SAMPLING PROCEDURE

  1. Samples should be taken one to three weeks after black layer on 80% of the kernels on most ears.
  2. Cut 8 inches of the stalk 6 inches above the soil surface. See graphic below.
  3. Remove all leaves from the stalk.
  4. Include 10 to 15 stalks from a representative area. Sample areas should be determined based on differences in management or soil type.
  5. Wrap the bundle of stalks in duct tape. Write your name and sample ID on the tape using a permanent marker. The following information should be included on a separate sheet with the samples: Name, Physical Address, Sample ID, Phone Number, Email
  6. Samples can be mailed to or dropped off at the lab.
  7. Analysis will be reported in 2-3 business days upon arrival to the lab.

Please use the following plant tissue sample submittal form found below.

Plant Tissue

AGRICULTURAL WATER SAMPLING PROCEDURE

  1. Use a clean plastic container for submitting your sample. Bottles can be obtained from the laboratory.
  2. Rinse the container several times with water that is being sampled. Send at least one-half pint of water to be tested.
  3. Wells should be pumped several hours before sampling. Test wells should be sampled after pipe and screen are in place. Pump well for at least 10 hours before sampling.
  4. Samples of lakes, streams, and ponds should be taken from below surface.
  5. If it is not possible to send the sample to the lab immediately after collection, refrigerate until it is sent.

Please use the following water / waste water sample submittal form found below.

Water / Waste Water

HOUSEHOLD WATER SAMPLING PROCEDURE

  1. Use a clean plastic container for submitting your sample. Bottles can be obtained from the laboratory.
  2. Let water run for five minutes.
  3. Rinse the container several times with water that is being sampled and then fill the sample bottle. Send at least one-half pint of water to be tested.
  4. If it is not possible to send the sample to the lab immediately after collection, refrigerate until it is sent.

Please use the following water / waste water sample submittal form found below.

Water / Waste Water

BACTERIA WATER SAMPLING PROCEDURE

Please read carefully to insure accurate results. If you have any questions please call the lab at (308) 234-2418 prior to taking samples.

  1. Samples will be accepted MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY ONLY between the hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  2. Samples need to be received by the lab within 24 hours after sampling. Samples should be kept cool during transport.
  3. The enclosed sterilized bottle contains a small amount of preservative. If analysis is required in addition to Coliform, a separate sampling bottle is required. (Please request a Water Testing Bottle).
  4. Collect sample from an indoor water tap. Remove screen or strainer from spigot, (if one is present), and sterilize by flaming briefly with a match or lighter. You can also swab with rubbing alcohol. Allow water to run freely for FIVE MINUTES before collecting sample.
  5. Avoid contaminating your sample. Carefully remove lid from enclosed sample bottle without touching the inside of the cap or threaded area of bottle.
  6. DO NOT rinse bottle. Fill bottle to line. Replace lid at once.

Please use the following water / waste water sample submittal form found below.

Water / Waste Water

LIQUID FERTILIZER SAMPLING PROCEDURE

A critical requirement in getting a representative sample of a liquid fertilizer is to take the sample directly from the main body of the material without contamination. Avoid, whenever possible, taking samples from lines and valves. Listed below are the preferred points of sampling in order of preference.

  1. Directly from mixing vat.
  2. From the top opening of storage or transport tank after agitating for 15 minutes.
  3. From a delivery or recirculating line after proper recirculation.

Please submit liquid fertilizer in a plastic container. Bottles can be obtained from the laboratory.

Please use the following fertilizer testing submittal form found below.

Fertilizer Testing

MANURE/COMPOST SAMPLING PROCEDURE

  1. Due to the volatile organic compounds and ammonium present in manure, samples should be taken within 1 to 2 weeks of application. Composts have already partially decomposed and often contain more stable compounds, so they may be tested 1 to 2 months prior to application.
  2. Select piles that are most representative of your sample.
  3. Collect 8 manure subsamples to a depth of 12” at eight spots throughout the pile. Samples should be moist and contain manure and plants. Compost only requires 6 subsamples due to uniformity.
  4. Thoroughly mix subsamples and place in labeled bags. A gallon sized zip lock bag filled approximately half full is enough.
  5. Samples should be shipped to the laboratory as soon as possible. Keep samples cool (not frozen) until delivery to the laboratory.
  6. Place sealed samples in a second or even third plastic bag to prevent spillage and odor.
  7. Please clearly mark sample bags with a waterproof pen. The use of felt-tip pens or pencils can smear if exposed to water or during shipping.

Please use the following manure / slurry / compost sample submittal form found below.

Manure / Slurry / Compost 

SLURRY SAMPLING PROCEDURE

  1. Agitate the manure mixture for 2 to 4 hours before sampling.
  2. Sub-samples can be dipped from the agitated storage using a bucket on a rope, thrown into the manure storage, taken from spreader tank loads, or taken from transfer pipe.
  3. Samples also may be taken at the time of application. Place 3 to 6 small buckets (plastic coffee cans) at several locations in the field(s).
  4. Place all sub-samples in a larger clean plastic pail and stir the contents thoroughly.
  5. Use a long-handled dipper to take several cups of mixture into a clean one-quart plastic bottle until the liquid is about 2 to 3 inches from the top of the bottle.
  6. Put a piece of tape over the lid and place sealed samples in a second or even third plastic bag to prevent spillage and odor.
  7. Clearly mark sample bags with a waterproof pen. The use of felt-tip pens or pencils can smear if exposed to water or during shipping.
  8. Samples should be shipped to the laboratory as soon as possible. Keep samples cool (not frozen) until delivery to the laboratory.

Please use the following manure / slurry / compost sample submittal form found below.

Manure / Slurry / Compost