Mid-Atlantic Soil and Plant Analysis Work Group 

February 21-22, 2001 

Richmond, Virginia 

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

8:30 a.m. 

The meeting was called to order by the Chairman, Doug Beegle, Dept of Agronomy, Penn State University.  After introductions, Mr. Phil Howard proceeded with an update of Southern States Activities.  He talked about struggles with profitability and expansion into the North East United States and Canada. 

Mark Flock, Brookside Lab, Inc., presented the manure sample exchange results.  Three dried samples were mailed to each lab; compost, composted sewage sludge, and chicken manure.  The lab methods and results were discussed.  Discussed sending out as-is samples for next year’s exchange and include methods, analysis for water soluble phosphorus, and availability coefficients for nitrogen and phosphorus.  

Steve Donohue, Virginia Tech, gave an update on the completion of ‘Reference Sufficiency Ranges for Plant Analysis in the Southern Region of the United States – Southern Cooperative Series Bulletin #394’ and listed the web site as agr.state.nc.us/agronomi/saaesd/scsb394.htm. 

Paul Chu, A & L Eastern Agricultural Laboratories, discussed cutting ICP running time using larger tubing (purple-black or green-green tygon), fast pump speed, and a mini or cyclonic spray chamber.  The larger tubing and smaller spray chamber enables the solution to reach the torch in less time and reduces the carryover.  Ordering information from PI International was provided. 

Ann Wolf, Penn State University, presented an exchange summary regarding exchangeable acidity, pH, and CEC.  Results from seven NAPT exchange samples were sent to each lab.  The lab’s methods and calculated values for acidity and CEC were summarized and compared.  The comparison showed a good correlation between the different methods and calculations.  Talked about including lime, phosphorus, and potassium recommendations with the NAPT Mid-Atlantic sample dataset for next year.  Karen Gartley, University of Delaware, volunteered to titrate samples for actual acidity to compare values. 

Ray Tucker, Agronomic Division, NCDA, gave a presentation regarding S and Mn deficiencies in tobacco and other crops from a different view. 

Lunch was provided by Southern States. 

Ray Tucker introduced Andrew Gardner, LabFit, Australia, to discuss robotic pH measurement.  Andrew presented the AS-3000 Automated pH and EC Analyzer system and options. 

Doug Beegle spoke about starter fertilizer giving data and recommendations.  Starter fertilizer is used to offset adverse conditions and promote early growth.  There is little response when conditions are not adverse.  There are environmental concerns.  Frank Coale, University of Maryland, presented an overall modest response to starter fertilizer and recommends starter phosphorus. 

Ray Tucker presented ‘The Status of Phosphorus in Coastal Plain Soils Following Swine Waste Applications’.  In summary, the soil phosphorus index values are increasing.  Ray distributed handouts regarding phosphorus trends and led a general discussion on phosphorus issues.  Frank Coale reported that Maryland has finalized the phosphorus index based on soil test and an on site assessment which will be effective December 31, 2001. 

Bob Miller, Colorado State University, Presented a Mehlich III case study of lab bias from NAPT results.  Differences in phosphorus may be attributed to colorimetric vs. ICP.  Future reports will separate Mehlich III results into colorimetric and ICP categories.  Issues addressed were scooping techniques, number of standards used, and concentration of highest standard.  New soil methods are being added to the program and soil samples will be supplied in jar containers.  Soil is needed for the exchange program from this area (10 – 5 gallon buckets of unground soil).         

Steve Donohue and Karen Gartley talked about a soil-plant analyst’s workshop which would involve technician training.  Steve and Karen will put together ideas regarding topics, location, and speakers.   

The evening social was provided by Spectro Analytical Instruments, Inc.

Thursday, February 22, 2001

8:30 a.m. 

Karen Gartley presented computer-reporting systems.  A review was given regarding what labs are doing and what they would like to see for the future.  Discussed having a show and tell of web reporting systems for next year. 

State Reports 

Virginia – Steve Donohue reported that a new form for submitting soil samples has been developed.  Steve Heckendorn reported analyzing 45,000 soil samples in 2000.  Computer system undergoing changes.  Now giving nutrient management recommendations based on site-specific soil type information.  Added LOI as typical organic matter test.  Upgraded TJA ICP to ICAP 61E.  All new employees except for one. 

Delaware – Changes in system.  Karen has been promoted to director.  Added CEM.  Analyzed 3,164 soil samples for fertility and 18,243 samples research and non-college paid samples.  Will become Mehlich III on July 1, 2001.  Comparison of routine soil tests as screening protocols to identify Pb contaminated soils.  Use of soil tests to assist in environmental assessment of high P soils. 

Florida – James Bartos reported analyzing 14,000 extension samples and 140,000 research samples.  New Spectro CIROS.  Automated spectrophotometer for phosphorus.  Switch to Mehlich III.  Looking into buying CN analyzer. 

A & L – Paul Chu reported lab starting to use Mehlich III.  Now doing Bray, Mehlich III and Morgan.  Data can be emailed to individual customers.  Two formats – comma delimited or pdf. 

Pennsylvania – Ann Wolf reported a three-year cropping system for recommendations.  Working to develop a web based reporting system, which will enable crop code modifications.  The recommendation system has been updated which offers more flexibility.  

South Carolina – Kathy Moore reported university wide budget cuts.  Hired a new chemist.  Automated pH data entry using Collect software from Labtronics.  All reporting systems are now on the web.  Purchased LECO FP528 N combustion analyzer.  Total samples:  33,700 soil, 2,063 plant, 1,900 feed, 355 water, 480 waste, 353 other. 

North Carolina – Ray Tucker reported using new soil shipping boxes.  Incorporated two new crop codes.  Analyzed 290,000 soil samples.  Bobby walls reported analyzing 12,000 waste and 8,000 plant samples. 

Maryland – Frank Coale reported the recent purchase of a Spectro ICP Modula.  Switching to Mehlich III late summer or early fall, 2001.  Future plans call for eliminating Nitric-Perchloric digestion of plant and manure samples and switching to microwave digestion.  Analyzed 20,000 soil samples, 1,300 manure samples, 3,500 plant samples. 

Plans for Next Year – 

Mark Flock will coordinate an as-sampled manure exchange including methods, soluble phosphorus, and availability coefficients for nitrogen and phosphorus.  

Ann Wolf will put together Mid-Atlantic NAPT sample information to compare lab’s acidity and CEC values and lime, phosphorus, and potassium recommendations.  Karen Gartley will titrate samples for actual acidity.  Bob Miller will submit Mid-Atlantic NAPT summary. 

Karen Gartley will send out soil samples testing high in phosphorus for an exchange.  Look at critical levels for phosphorus and potassium. 

Ray Tucker will give a presentation regarding double cropping. 

Show and Tell of web reporting systems.  

Lab training workshop update. 

The next meeting is scheduled for February 20 – 21, 2002. 

The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m. 

Minutes submitted by Kathy Moore