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OSU Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory
provides key services for both rural and urban settings.


STILLWATER, Oklahoma – It is impossible to provide an accurate fertilizer recommendation without an accurate soil test, and that is why many Oklahomans in rural and urban settings rely on the Oklahoma State University Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory.

“Urban or rural, it makes no difference where a person lives,” said Hailin Zhang, laboratory director and OSU Cooperative Extension nutrient management specialist. “Soil tests should be a standard management tool for farmers and homeowners alike.”

Fertilizing without soil test data makes farming largely guesswork. Producers do not know what nutrients are needed, nor the amount required to ensure a good crop.

“It is possible to under- or over-apply fertilizer or animal manure,” Zhang said. “This not only costs money, it also means additional nutrients may enter water supplies and cause problems.”

Guessing low also is a problem. Inadequate amounts of fertilizer could reduce yields and decrease profits.

Soil testing also is valuable to homeowners wanting to ensure they have a lush, green lawn or productive garden.

“Homeowners have the same basic challenge as farmers in under- or over-applying fertilizer; too little and the results are not what they desire, too much and runoff occurs, leading to possible environmental problems, which could in turn be costly for an entire community,” said Zhang, an OSU Regents professor who is also holder of the prestigious Arthur L. Reed Endowed Chair in the department of plant and soil sciences. “Of course, if somebody needs more than a soil test done, we can do that as well.”

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