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Welcome to the Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory at Colorado State University!

The Soil-Water-Plant Laboratory analyzes soil, water, plant, sludge, manure and miscellaneous types of samples from farmers, homeowners, consultants, government agencies and CSU personnel, and provides fertilizer suggestions for improving crop growth.

Information and Forms: (Forms are in PDF format.)

Further analysis is available please contact the lab for more information and prices.

The lab is certified with Manure Analysis Proficiency at Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture (MAP), National Forage Testing Association (NFTA), and participates in the National Association for Proficiency Testing (NAPT).

Location and Parking

Colorado State University, Natural and Environmental Sciences Building, Room A-320, Fort Collins, CO.

  • There is a loading dock on the southeast corner of the building that can be used for short term parking as long as you park off to the side.
    The dock is across the corner from “A” Street on East Drive
  • Additional parking is available in the loading zones at the south end of the NESB and at the southwest corner of East Dr. and University Ave, just east of the Shepardson Building.
  • The loading zone areas allow for a time period of 20 minutes.
  • There are also two 30 minute parking spots on Mason St., just east of the General Services Building and a pay lot at the corner of Pitkin St and East Dr. just west of the motor pool.

Our hours are 8-5 Monday-Friday
Except on and around major holidays.**The Soil-Water-Plant Testing Lab does not test for pesticides or herbicides.**

Poor Plant Growth due to High Salt in Soil

Poor plant growth can sometimes be attributed to high salts in the soil. Salt content can be measured by analyzing the soil for electrical conductivity (EC) and is expressed in units called millimhos/cm (mmhos/cm).

Most plants can usually tolerate EC levels in the soil up to about 2.5 to 3 mmhos/cm, however salt sensitive plants may not grow well if the EC exceeds 2 to 2.5 mmhos/cm. Soils are considered saline if the EC is four or more, sodic (high in sodium) if the pH is greater than or equal to 8.5 and saline-sodic if the pH is greater than or equal to 8.5 and has an EC of 4 or more.

Salts can be naturally occurring in low lying areas where the water table may be close to the surface or they can become high through the addition of too much manure or other high salt containing compost.

Adding composts or composted manures at a rate of 3 cubic yards per 1000 square feet (about one inch thick on the surface of the soil) and then tilling or rototilling them in about six inches is usually sufficient to prevent high salt concentrations in the soil. Care should also be used when purchasing topsoil to avoid soil that is high in salts.

Some topsoils are mixed with composts or manures which can improve soil structure and nutrient levels, but can also result in high salt concentrations that are detrimental to plants. With some topsoils being delivered at rates of $25 to $40 per cubic yard, it pays to find out if the soil will be acceptable for plant growth by knowing the salt level or EC.

Hints for Homeowners

The Soil, Water and Plant Testing Lab offers gift certificates for soil tests!

Trying to figure out what to give the gardener, farmer or rancher in your life? The Soil, Water and Plant Testing Lab offers gift certificates for soil testing at only $35.00 per sample.

The test includes an analysis of pH, soil salts and nutrient levels in the soil as well as an interpretation of the results. Soil testing is a great way to evaluate salts, nutrient availability and the effects of adding composts or other amendments to the soil.

Gift certificates are always available and can be used at any time. Call Jim or Debbie at the lab at 970-491-5061 for more information.

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