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Changes at testing lab will mprove service

MARIANNA, Ark. — The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Soil Testing and Research Lab analyzed some 100,000 soil samples for Arkansas farmers in 2003. “In April alone, our peak month, we analyzed almost as many samples as some other soil test labs around the country analyze all year,” says Morteza Mozaffari, director of the lab.

Changes in testing and reporting will give producers results faster and in a more user-friendly format, he said at the annual field day at the Northeast Research and Extension Center at Keiser, Ark.

The Soil Testing Lab analyzes samples farmers submit through their county Extension Service offices for the content of nutrients available to plants. The reports help producers plan fertilizer applications to meet the nutrient needs of their crops.

“We mail the results of soil tests to the county Extension offices,” says Mozaffari. “That takes about three to four working days, after the reports are generated.”

Soon, the county Extension agents will be able to download the reports from the lab’s Web site. That means “farmers will get information three days earlier.”

Mozaffari also says the lab will change its reporting units for nutrient concentrations from pounds per acre to parts per million. However, he stressed fertilizer recommendations will still be issued in pounds per acre.

Reports will be changed to a format that is easier to use and will include graphic interpretations of soil test results showing nutrient levels as: very low, low, medium, optimum or high.

“We’re making these changes to improve service and speed delivery of the results to Arkansas producers,” says Mozaffari.

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