Mission and Policies

September 22, 2005

Contents

  1. Mission Statement
  2. Goals
  3. Policy Guidelines
    1. Soil Analysis Laboratory
    2. Plant Tissue Laboratory
    3. Feed and Forage Laboratory
    4. Irrigation Water Laboratory
    5. Animal Analysis Laboratory
  4. Payments
  5. Supplies

Mission Statement

The purpose of the analytical section of the Agricultural Service Laboratory is to provide information and analytical testing for soil, plant tissue, feed and forage, animal waste, irrigation water, and compost samples. Individual clients, commercial dealers, Extension Agents, Extension Specialists, and researchers may submit samples to the laboratory. The mission is accomplished by:

  1. Operating analytical analysis laboratories.
  2. Providing a high level of analytical precision and accuracy by ensuring quality control.
  3. Participating in national and regional samples exchange programs.
  4. Organizing a record keeping, data processing and reporting section.
  5. Providing timely results to the clients.
  6. Providing clients with lime and fertilizer recommendations based on soil tests.  Return to top.

Goals

  1. To provide assistance and educational information to clients.
  2. To enhance public relations.
  3. To utilize new or improved techniques, methods, and instrumentation for analytical analyses.
  4. To maintain updated lime and fertilizer recommendations.
  5. To enforce laboratory safety guidelines.  Return to top.

Policy Guidelines

  1. Soil Testing Laboratory
    1. Sampling
      1. Special care should be made to ensure that reliable and representative samples are taken for submission to the lab. The results of the analyses are only as reliable as the samples received. Sampling guidelines may be found on the lab web site.
    2. Submitting Samples
      1. Completion of the record sheet should be checked at the County Office or the lab upon receiving samples. Omission of soil and crop codes can result in erroneous recommendations since different soil types reference different calibration curves. Improper completion of the form may result in results begin returned to the wrong county or returned back to the lab. The record sheet should accurately reflect the information on the sample bag. If a hard "copy to" is requested for a third party to receive a hard copy of the soil test results, the copy will be forwarded by the county. An individual listing a personal email address will be able to access the report on the web.
      2. Special analyses are limited to those listed on the record sheet. Special analyses, when the routine soil analysis is not requested, should be listed on a soil analysis form separate from routine soil analyses.
      3. For shipping samples to the lab, individual sample bags should be filled with soil that is moist or dry but not wet. Samples should be submitted only in bags provided by the lab. The use of provided shipping boxes reduces the chance for samples to be damaged in transit when the cartons are properly packed. Special care should be taken in packing soil samples for shipment to avoid damage in transit or the spilling of samples within the shipping cartons. Record sheets should be included as a group within the shipping box instead of being placed inside each individual sample box. Samples should be shipped directly to the Agricultural Service laboratory.
    3. Sample Processing
      1. Samples received at the Lab are organized by date received, County, and client. Samples are organized in sets of 100 and laboratory numbers are assigned.  Notation is made of any special analyses. Samples must be dried and ground before analyses are made, therefore, anything that delays drying (plastic bags, excessively wet samples) delays processing. Samples will not be split and sent to other laboratories.
      2. Samples are processed on a first come first served basis.
      3. Samples are stored in the laboratory for at least 4 weeks after analysis. This allows time for samples to be rechecked if there are questions concerning results.
    4. Results and Recommendations
      1. Results from each set of 100 samples are transferred to the data processing section of the Lab and the reports are generated and reviewed. County offices have web access to all reports for samples coming through their office.  All reports are mailed directly back to the client from the Lab unless the client's email address is listed.  If the client lists an email address, they will be sent an email notification and be able to access their reports on the web.
      2. Questions regarding actual analyses may be directed to the Agricultural Service Laboratory. Questions about recommendations and comments, however, should be directed to the appropriate Extension Specialists. Additional or different recommendations may be requested for samples already run by the laboratory.  Return to top.
  2. Plant Tissue Analysis Laboratory
    1. Sampling
      1. The values obtained from nutrient analysis for a plant tissue sample are dependent upon the age of the plant, type of tissue collected, physical condition of the plant (drought stress, insect or disease damage, mechanical damage, etc.), and contamination from soil or pesticides. The Clemson University Extension Service has formulated guidelines for collecting plant samples from the major crops grown in the State. These guidelines list proper times and proper parts of the plant to sample. The guidelines are available on the lab web page under the plant tissue section. Special care should be taken to follow these guidelines when sampling. If the guidelines are not followed, a normal sample should be submitted along with an abnormal sample so a comparison of the results can be made.  General instructions for collecting plant tissue samples can also be found on the lab web site. If an analysis is desired on the leaf portion of the plant, only the leaves should be submitted with the stems and roots removed. Submitting the equivalent volume of a half lunch bag of fresh tissue will insure that there will be enough sample for the desired analyses. If an analysis is desired on the petioles of a plant, 20-25 large petioles or 35-40 small petioles should be submitted.
    2. Submitting Samples
      1. Appropriately completed plant tissue record forms must accompany the samples to the lab. The desired analyses must be checked and the crop listed.  The sample number must not exceed 8 alpha and/or numeric characters. Special care should be taken to submit clean samples in paper bags provided by the Lab.
    3. Sample Processing
      1. Plant tissue samples received at the Lab are organized by grower and sample number then assigned lab numbers. The analyses desired are recorded.  The samples are dried overnight then ground for analysis.
    4. Results
      1.   Nutrient sufficiency ranges have been developed for the major crops grown in the State.  These sufficiency ranges correspond to the sampling guidelines formulated by the University Extension Service.  The plant tissue analysis reports list the specific nutrient sufficiency ranges for most of the types of plants submitted.  Sufficiency ranges, however, have not been established for many types of plants not commonly grown on a commercial basis. A comparison of the results from a healthy sample with the results from an unhealthy sample will be helpful in a situation where sufficiency ranges cannot be used.
    5. Hard copies of the reports are mailed directly to the client unless the client lists an email address. In that case the client will receive an email notification when the report is ready and will be able to access it on the web. County offices have web access to all reports for samples coming through their office.
    6. Questions regarding actual analyses may be directed to the Agricultural Service Laboratory. Questions about recommendations should be directed to the appropriate Extension Specialists.  Return to top.
  3. Feed and Forage Analysis Laboratory
    1. Sampling
      1. The instructions for collecting feed and forage samples are listed on this web site under the feed and forage section. Care should be taken to submit a representative sample.
    2. Submitting Samples
      1. Appropriately completed feed and forage record forms must accompany the samples to the Lab.  The analyses desired must be checked on the form. The "Animals to be Fed" and "Type of Feed" categories must be complete.  The sample number must not exceed 8 alpha and/or numeric characters. Samples should be submitted in plastic bags provided by the Lab.
    3. Sample Processing
      1. Feed and Forage samples received at the Lab are organized by grower and sample number then assigned lab numbers. The analyses desired are recorded.  Samples containing greater than 15% moisture are dried overnight then ground for analysis. Samples containing less than 15% moisture are analyzed as-is.
    4. Results
      1. The reported total digestible nutrients (TDN) and energy values will be calculated from the crude protein and acid detergent fiber (ADF) values for hays, silages, mixed rations, grains and complete feeds using research formulas. TDN and energy values will not be calculated from samples that do not fit into one of these feed categories.
      2. Hard copies of the reports are mailed directly to the client unless the client lists an email address. In that case the client will receive an email notification when the report is ready and will be able to access it on the web. County offices have web access to all reports for samples coming through their office.
      3. Questions regarding actual analyses may be directed to the lab. Questions about recommendations and comments should be directed to the appropriate Extension Specialist.  Return to top.
  4. Irrigation Water Analysis Laboratory
    1. Sampling
      1. The instructions for collecting irrigation water samples are listed on this web site under the irrigation water section. Care should be taken to submit a representative sample.
    2. Submitting Samples
      1. Appropriately completed irrigation water forms must accompany the samples to the Lab. The analyses desired must be checked on the form. The sample number must not exceed 8 alpha and/or numeric characters. At least 1 pint of water must be submitted in clean plastic bottles.
    3. Sample Processing
      1. Irrigation water samples received at the Lab are organized by grower and sample number then assigned lab numbers. The analyses desired are recorded.
    4. Hard copies of the reports are mailed directly to the client unless the client lists an email address. In that case the client will receive an email notification when the report is ready and will be able to access it on the web. County offices have web access to all reports for samples coming through their office.
    5. Questions regarding actual analyses may be directed to the lab. Questions about recommendations and comments should be directed to the appropriate Extension Specialist.  Return to top.
  5. Animal Waste Analysis Laboratory
    1. Sampling
      1. The instructions for collecting animal waste samples are listed on this site under the animal waste section. Care should be taken to submit a representative sample.
    2. Submitting Samples
      1. Appropriately completed animal waste forms must accompany the samples to the Lab. The analyses desired must be checked on the form. The sample number must not exceed 8 alpha and/or numeric characters. The animal waste sampling bags provided by the Agricultural Service Lab must be used for submitting solid animal waste samples. No more than 1 pint of liquid waste should be submitted in a plastic bottle.
    3. Sample Processing
      1. Animal waste samples received at the Lab are organized by grower and sample number. The analyses desired are recorded.  A portion of the samples are dried overnight then ground for analysis. Ammonium-Nitrogen is determined from a portion of the fresh sample.
    4. Hard copies of the reports are mailed directly to the client unless the client lists an email address. In that case the client will receive an email notification when the report is ready and will be able to access it on the web. County offices have web access to all reports for samples coming through their office.
    5. Questions regarding actual analyses may be directed to the lab. Questions about recommendations and comments should be directed to the appropriate Extension Specialist.  Return to top.

Payment

Payment should accompany samples to the extension offices or the Lab.  Checks should be made out to Clemson University. Accounts for billing will be established at the Lab with prior approval from the Director. Invoices for billing are mailed monthly. A volume discount of 15% is offered to client accounts who submit more than 100 samples per calendar year.  Return to top.

Supplies

All sample containers may be obtained from the county extension offices or the Agricultural Service Laboratory. The forms for submitting samples are available on the lab web site. All laboratory supplies must be used for submitting samples only to the Agricultural Service Laboratory.  Return to top.