Produce Growers

SHOULD I GUESS, OR TEST?

The Importance of Testing Water, Soil, and Plant Tissue

What is in Your Water?  Is it Safe to Drink?

Safe and reliable drinking water is very important for humans and animals.

Many of us believe that all water is acceptable and safe to drink whether it be for ourselves or our animals.  There are numerous private water systems that have been in use for decades.

Some Examples Would Be:

  • A drilled well that has a capped off casing
  • A hand dug well or windmill with wood platform
  • Collecting rain water or a spring into a cistern or holding tank

Springs are usually shallow and with heavy rains, the water flows quickly down into the soil and into the cistern.  The cloudy appearance is the fine soil sediment that is in the water and after a few days it will settle to the bottom of the cistern.  The water may look normal again, but bacteria has already entered into the cistern and could be in your plumbing etc.

The Quantitative test (a count of how many) is important for a private water system.  It is also required for the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) if you are washing and selling produce.  The result is reported as colony forming units per 100 mL of water (CFU/100 mL).

Test Desired
      Q     

Water Bacteria  Analysis  – Total Count of  Total Coliform and E-Coli. [ CFU/100ml ] ……..………..…………….……………………….$ 45.00 each                                                                (Call or write us for a 100 ml approved sterile bottle)

         Click her for “Submission Form and How to sanitize and collect a water bacteria sample”

WHY TEST WATER FOR IRRIGATION?

Water quality is a big factor that limits plant health affecting sales and impacting the pest and plant management in the greenhouse, high tunnel, and nursery industries.  A water analysis should be completed first to find out what the water quality is before a decision is made with the fertilizer program.  The top three water quality problems growers face are pH, salts, and alkalinity (bicarbonate levels).

       I     

Irrigation Water Suitability Analysis   (Submit 1 pint (16oz.) per sample, and fill to the top)

Includes, pH, Hardness in ppm and grains per gallon, Bicarbonate, Carbonate, and Total Alkalinity, Electrical Conductivity (EC), Total Dissolved Salts (TDS), Sodium, Chloride, Sodium Adsorption Ratio, (SAR Adj.), Residual Sodium Carbonate (RSC), Nitrate-Nitrogen, Total Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfate, Iron, Manganese, Copper, Zinc and Boron …………..….…….…….……………………………..… $89.00 each

Click here for “Irrigation Water Submission Form”

WHY TEST THE SOIL?

Soil is defined as a complex medium of organic and inorganic materials providing water and nutrients to the root system of plants to support their growth and development.  This is one of the most important functions of soil, but occasionally, the soil may be low in one or more nutrients required by those plants.  The deficiency of needed nutrients are normally expressed in the appearance of the leaves.  Such symptoms may include a discoloration, or a rapid decline in quality during periods of heat or moisture stress.

The only way to determine if important nutrients are low or lacking is to conduct a soil test.  Wait until you receive the results with recommendations before you apply any Lime or Fertilizer. 

Another situation to be aware of is a soil that might have an excess of nutrients due to over fertilization.  Excessive concentrations of soluble salts could also develop in these soils.  Plants, especially germinating plants, or young plants, may be severely injured, or even killed if the concentration of salts is too high. 

Soil pH that is too low or too high is detrimental to optimum plant growth.  Most turf grasses, flowers, shrubs, vegetables, and fruits grow best at soil pH of 6.1 to 6.9.  Plants such as rhododendron, azalea, potatoes, and blueberries require a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0.

  A Standard Soil Test 

 

Includes: Organic Matter, pH, Buffer pH (Lime Test Index), Available Phosphorus and Exchangeable Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) and Percent Base Saturations of Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Sodium. Plus, recommendations for Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash, Magnesium and Lime. (For recommendations, please include field history). This package is recommended for vegetable gardens, new lawns, ornamental shrubs, trees, field crops or any highly managed lawns and ornamental plants …………………………………………$30.00 each.

    Click here for “More extensive soil testing”

     Click here for “Soil Information Sheet”

Click here for “How To Take A Soil Sample”.