2007 Minutes

Southern States Building, Richmond, VA
February 20 - 21, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The meeting was called to order at 8:30 am by Karen Gartley.

The group was welcomed to the 2007 meeting and introductions were made. Phil Howard, our host from Southern States, was not able to attend this year due to prior commitments. In his place, David Parker gave an update on Southern States. Current fertilizer issues (supply, demand and cost) are similar to those of the early 1970's. Supply is low while demand is high. Increased demand for crops such as corn is contributing to the issues as are worldwide production factors.

In the research / testing area, Southern States is also looking at several new products to increase the efficiency of plant nutrient uptake, polymer coatings to increase phosphate availability of P fertilizers and to improve urease activity for urea and UAN materials.

David Kissel next gave a presentation "Soil pH and Lime Requirement and its Relationship with N Reactions". The full presentation is posted on the MASTPAWG website. David presented and overview of the relationships between soil pH, soil acidity, aluminum availability and plant uptake of cations and anions. He showed that when nitrification is slow, plants can take up a higher proportion of N as ammonium and respond by releasing H+ through their roots, thus acidifying the soil. When NH4+ uptake by roots occurs in the subsoils, those subsoils may be acidified by the same process. This acidification is important because subsoils are often high in AL3+ which can be toxic to plant roots, thus restricting root growth and plant access to water. Since getting lime to acidic subsoils is difficult, acidic subsoils, especially where concentrations of Al3+ are high can have serious impacts on crop growth and yield.

Leticia Sonon presented her talk "Soil pH and Lime Requirement with Either CaCO3 or Ca(OH)2 Incubation". The differences in solubility between CaCO3 and Ca(OH)2 raised questions as to whether a 30 minute equilibration time in the titration method was sufficient to accurately predict liming requirement. A 60 day incubation study was conducted using 8 soils. Soil pH was measured in both water and CaCL2. During the 1st 30 days, the CaCO3 was slower to react but by 60 days the two were essentially equal. They also looked at the effect of ionic strength in the soil solution on the rate of change. In some soils, all of the change was essentially completed between Day 3 and Day 15, and by 60 days the pH was starting to decrease again. Others took the full time to fully react.

After the break, Leticia presented her second talk "Follow Up on Implementation of pH by 0.01 M CaCL2". UGA switched to measuring pH in 0.01M CaCL2 for several reasons including helping to account for or minimize the seasonal variation in pH. They measured both water and CaCL2 pH on over 3000 samples and found an average difference in pH of 0.6 units (ΔpH), with the CaCl2 pH being lower. Initially, UGA began reporting both the CaCL2 pH and the equivalent Water pH (CaCL2 pH + ΔpH) on their reports. The lab received many questions and complaints about the new reports. They are continuing to run pH by 0.01M CaCl2 but have switched to only reporting "pH" which is actually the equivalent water pH. The results continue to give the consistency desired but also make clients and agents happier as the values shown are consistent with what people are used to seeing and are also inline with those in the literature, bulletins and fact sheets.

Karen next reviewed Frank Sikora's pH survey with the group and asked that comments be e-mailed to Frank who was unable to attend the meeting. Discussion included comments on shaking versus stirring, electrodes, time to taking the reading, etc.

Discussion then moved on to "Modifications of Lime Requirement Buffers". Frank Sikora has worked on modifying the SMP buffer to the Sikora Buffer. Kathy Moore has been working with Frank on making modifications to the Adams-Evans Buffer to reduce the hazardous waste disposal issues. David described some issues they have had with the Mehlich Buffer - occasionally get very low buffer pH measurements which are close to the water pH and which cannot be reproduced. David also described modifications that the NCDA lab makes to the Mehlich buffer to improve stability. In summer, they use all Barium as specified in the reagent recipe. In the winter, they are able to substitute calcium for 1/2 of the barium and still get comparable results. The Ba helps reduce microbial growth in the warm weather.

Lunch was provided by Southern States.

After lunch, the group discussed potential topics for the 2008 meeting. Those included: recommendations for grapes, turf grass (production and residential), forestry crops, horticultural crops, and forages. Significant interest was expressed about bringing in more "field oriented" topics and also focusing on pastures and forages - especially on sampling, new research, recommendations and handouts or bulletins. Hay and forage testing was also suggested as a topic. It was suggested that members knowing of newly hired staff for whom this meeting might be of interest extend an invitation to attend. The possibility of offering CEUs for attendance was discussed. Kathy offered to provide the virtual tour for 2008.

Carl Crozier gave his presentation "Response of Corn and Wheat to Sulfur Fertilization in North Carolina". The study looked at S responses over time and evaluated the effects of factors such as manure use and S concentration in fertilizers and rainfall. Discussion included the role of N:S ratios, when to fertilizer with S and the importance of S concentration to grain quality.

Doug Beegle summarized work at Penn State looking at the management of manure in fields under no-till production.

Dion Tsourides and Bob Dussich of Spectro gave an update on new products including the Arcos ICP and the Genesis ICP. The Arcos is an improvement/ upgrade to the Csiros design with improvements for metals including Pb, As and Se. The optical system is located in its side so its vertical and the system in narrower. Improvements in the design provide improved optical resolution and detection limits over the Csiros system. It performs better in the UV range. It's aimed at the environmental industry. The Genesis is an entry level budget instrument. Detection is in the high ppb to ppm range.

David Kissel gave an update on the soil testing promotional video that UGA has put together and showed the demo version. The final version should be completed soon and information will be available on how to obtain copies. Paul Vendrell of UGA has been working on a comparable video about water testing.

Discussion moved to other ways that labs / states are looking to promote soil testing. Kathy Moore described Clemson's efforts to offer soil test kits for her lab through local stores such as Lowes and Home Depot. Other lab reps discussed how their kits were advertised and distributed.

Steve Heckendorn presented a virtual tour of the Va Tech soil testing laboratory.

The social and dinner at the Steak and Ale were sponsored by Spectro and LabFit courtesy of Dion Tsourides, Bob Dussich, and Bob Isaacs.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Doug Beegle lead a discussion on "nutrient trading", the process whereby one entity reduces their use or output of a nutrient such as N or P and another is allowed to increase theirs accordingly (e.g., a farmer reduces his N or P use and a municipality is allowed to increase theirs so that the net change is ~ 0). In PA, the process is related to trying to meet Chesapeake Bay reductions. Trades are difficult to quantify when nonpoint source pollution issues are involved. Models are being developed incorporating lots of factors. Monitoring is complicated and changes are difficult to quantify. The issue has become political and people are scrambling to work out a process. Funds to cover yield lost by reducing nutrients, pilot studies and modeling are underway. David Kissel and Josh McGrath mentioned that similar discussions are underway in GA and MD.

Bob Isaacs gave an update for LabFit. They are working on a new 5 probe unit as well as double and quad probe units for high throughput laboratories. The new designs will be able to pH, EC and ISE. LabFit has recently hired a new applications specialist, Leon Miguel. For sales and support you can contact the following by e-mail: David@LabFit.com for software and Matthew@LabFit.com for hardware needs.

Bob asked for input from the group members who have LabFit instruments. Members mentioned the desire to have someone in the US to do service. Other issues mentioned include software improvements, dispenser problems when running buffers, and pump issues that need improvement.

Lab Updates:

Brookside: Mark Flock told the group that Brookside has switched to colorimetric P to improve low P readings for the Midwest samples being run by Bray P1. They've installed a Fia Lab system that is linear from 5 to 1000 ppm PO4-P on Bray P1. The system holds 1200 samples. It uses the traditional wavelength but uses a top standard of 400 ppm PO4-P to give the wide range.

UGA: Leticia Sonon provided a summary of the sample distribution for FY0506 and FY0405. Total volume increased by 2573 samples between the two reporting years. The lab has been testing filter paper quality. 5 types were evaluated - 4 pre-folded and 1 folded with in the lab. Ca, Mg and Na levels were high in 3 of the 5 papers tested. When the papers folded in the lab were folded using gloves, Na decreased indicating that the NA may have been residual salts from bare hands. Factory folded S&S #610 from Roger's Custom Services had the lowest level of contaminants and is currently being used by the UGA lab. In other news, the Soil Testing Video is nearly completed. Also, the CSREES southern region water coordination project has provided cameras capable of inspecting well bore holes to GA, KY, LA, OK, TN and TX. This has allowed the group to document issues in the wells that should be come the focus of regional Extension efforts. The team working on the project is planning to develop educational materials and efforts to help educate people about well construction and maintenance problems.

Clemson: Kathy Moore gave an update on the lab. She is working with Frank on modifications to the Adams-Evans Buffer similar to those made with the Sikora Buffer. The lab is also using a new software package.

NCDA: David Hardy provided an update on the soils section. For FY06, total volume was 306,000 soils, a decrease of 2% from the previous year. Turnaround time was 4 weeks or less. The lab has gotten new ovens to dry samples overnight. Each holds a cart with 20 sets of 36 samples. The carts can be rolled around the lab. NCDA also now runs M3 for 6 heavy metals for a charge of $25.00 per sample.

Brenda Cleveland is the new section chief for plants waters and wastes at NCDA. The total sample volume for FY06 was 35,000 samples, a decrease over 2004. Plants samples totaled 15,068. Waste samples were up. Solution samples totaled 2100. 26-29% were irrigation and the rest were nutrient solutions.

Agri-Analysis: Tim Hoerner gave an update on the lab. Soil and tissue sample volumes are up this year, They have switched to OM by LOI and are reporting LOI on the reports.

Penn State: Ann Wolf reported that the lab has purchased a new Varian ICP and are pleased with its performance so far, especially with the trace elements. They have also purchased a discrete analyzer which will be used for the new Water Testing program they are setting up. It will be used to measure Cl, SO4-S, NO3-N, NH4-N and PO4-P.

A&L: Paul Chu reported that the lab is looking at a new ICP for environmental work, especially Pb, As and Se. Sample volume was slow in November and December. They have installed a new LIMS system and software to be consistent with the other A&L Laboratories. It will help in e-mailing results to clients, etc. They have also installed new accounting software that will be helpful in tracking clients. They are approved by the PA DEP to test sewage sludges. They are also testing sewage sludges for VA clients. They have gotten certified as a result of client requests.

Spectrum Analytic: Vernon Pabst gave the update. Total sample volume is up and the lab is switching to the Sikora Buffer.

UMD: Josh McGrath indicated that he is looking for a technician to work in his lab and research program. ICP experience is a plus. He's also working on setting up a meeting for the Phosphorus Site Index Committee.

Va Tech: Steve Heckendorn gave the update for the lab. In June, 2006, The lab switched to a 700 liter microbulk tank for the labs Ar supply. The tank is filled about once per month rather than the dewars that were replace about once a week. In FY2006, samples volume was ~ 50,000 soil samples. January - March were very busy as the weather was mild. In July, 2006, Dr. Rory Maguire was hired to fill the Extension Nutrient Management position.

Delaware: Karen Gartley gave the update on the lab. Total sample volume was 19,491 for the year with 4,449 being routine soil samples for recommendations. The rest are research support and other paying clients. No real changes in the lab this year. Greg Binford is continuing his research in the areas of manure management, N management, etc and is also looking at the nutrient content of runoff from manure storage piles.

2007 Meeting Plans:
Virtual Lab Tour: Kathy Moore
Meeting Chair: Karen Gartley
Dates: February 19-20, 2007
Back Up Dates: April 22-23, 2007
Sponsor / Host: Southern States
Possible Dinner Hosts: LabFit, Spectro, Varian, Thermo

Meeting adjourned at 11:45 am.