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Growers are busy preparing equipment for the fall harvest season, which means it’s time to start planning for fall manure, tissue and soil testing. Higher input costs and lower projected commodity prices are just two factors that support the benefits of fall testing.

“Properly identifying nutrient levels can help you make the best management decisions,” notes Steve Peterson, AgSource Laboratories VP Laboratory Services. “We recommend testing manure, corn stalks and soil in the fall because each analysis can help you evaluate your growing season and better plan for next year.”

Manure analysis is an excellent way to maximize the benefits of different nutrient sources and reduce negative environmental effects. With increased regulations, proper manure management is critical. Manure test results and manure application maps are important parts of a valuable nutrient management plan.

Accurate analysis is dependent on correct sampling procedures. Sample collection, preparation and shipping can influence the results. Instructions on how to take a representative sample can be found at

Manure Sample Tips:

1. Plan Ahead, Sample Early: Collect and submit samples before the busy harvest season starts to reduce stress and headaches. It takes time to agitate and sample manure, especially from multiple locations. Allow enough time for the sample to get to the lab and be tested. Nutrient concentrations in stored manure are relatively stable, so a difference in weeks from sampling to application doesn’t affect results.

2. Use the Proper Container: NO GLASS CONTAINERS! Please do not use old Gatorade bottles. Call the lab to order your plastic sample jars.

3. Label Samples: Full sample jars look very similar! Be sure to label and record sample numbers on the container and on the information sheet. When shipping the samples, seal the sample jar in a plastic bag but place the information sheet outside the bag. This will help keep the info sheet clean in case of a leak.

4. Handle Samples Carefully: Remember, manure is a biologically active material. It is best to collect the samples and send them to the laboratory the same day. Do not let manure samples sit in hot areas, such as a dashboard of a truck, for any period of time. If expedited shipping cannot occur, refrigerate or freeze samples until the time they can be shipped. Clearly label all containers and include a laboratory identification sheet with each sample.

AgSource is a leader in agricultural and environmental laboratory analysis and information management services. A subsidiary of Cooperative Resources International, AgSource provides services to clients in the United States and across the globe. Learn more at