UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center Upgrades Services, Adds Convenience
Fee Increase to Occur for Some Services
Farmers, landscapers and home gardeners all across the state often rely on anecdotal evidence to determine if their soils are acidic or have a high organic matter content, but they don’t have to guess. For decades the University of Tennessee Soil, Plant and Pest Center has provided science-based analytical services that accurately characterize soils. Beginning in January 2017, the center is entering a new phase that administrators believe will propel the center to a higher level of service for years to come.
On January 2, the University of Tennessee Soil, Plant and Pest Center will begin using new technology that will expand the scientific analyses provided to clients as well as enhance the speed with which they may choose to receive their test results.
Debbie Joines, SPP Center manager, says the most significant change to the soil-testing service will be upgrading the center’s former “Basic Soil Test” to a new test labeled the “Plus Soil Test.”
“UT Extension has invested in new technology that will now allow the Soil, Plant and Pest Center to provide clients with test results that include all nine Mehlich 1 analytes,” says Joines. “With the Plus Soil Test, clients will receive results for pH as well as P, K, Ca, Mg, Zn, Mn, Fe, Cu and B. The former Basic Soil Test provided only evaluations of pH and four analytes—P, K, Ca and Mg,” she explains. The Basic Soil Test will no longer be available.
As part of the expanded services, Joines pledges that SPP Center clients will now receive their results extremely fast. “Our upgrades will allow us to speed up our turnaround time. Clients will submit samples and see results in most cases as quickly as overnight if they choose to access their reports on the internet either through a desktop computer or through a tablet or smartphone,” said Joines. Users who supply an email address along with their Soil Information Sheet will be prompted to sign into the system upon availability of results. Specifically, Joines says routine soil test results and reports are expected to be available within 1 – 2 days of sample receipt. “If a client wants a more detailed battery of tests, it might take longer. However, we can still provide faster turnaround than we could before the upgrades.”
So when do the new, faster services kick in? Joines expects the new system to be operational beginning January 2. “The new upgrades will allow the Soil, Plant and Pest Center to be extremely responsive to the needs of our clientele. Producers will be able to make critical production decisions and fulfill treatments in a timely manner,” she explained.
“Our soil amendment recommendations are maintenance recommendations that will keep your soil fertile with a minimum amount of expenditure,” she said. “This allows for lower fertilizer costs and amounts and produces higher yields, which in turn can enhance profits.” Joines adds that lower amounts of chemical inputs have the added benefit of being more environmentally friendly for both large-scale producers and home gardeners.
The new technology does come at a cost. While the price for the routine “Plus Soil Test” will remain the same as the old “Basic Plus Test,” some of the fees for SPP Center services are increasing. The cost for the relatively new forage nutritional tests, however, will remain the same. Also, distance plant and pest diagnostics will remain free through your County UT Extension Office. On-line access to results for both of those services is another upgrade planned for the near future.
Joines says any samples received or postmarked prior to January 2 will be processed according to the old fee schedule.
For detailed service and pricing information, see the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center website: ag.tennessee.edu/spp
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