various types soil in soil testing bags

Changes in the NDSU Soil Testing Lab Point to New Opportunities

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The NDSU Soil Testing Lab offers soil sampling and analysis that helps researchers, farmers and homeowners identify and solve soil-related problems that impact plant growth and could lead to economic losses. The results help answer questions about whether or not to fertilize, what type of fertilizer to use, and what management or remediation efforts can improve excess salts, high or low pH, or problematic soil texture.  

“Not only can soil test results guide management strategies for the current year, but repeated testing can reveal trends or determine whether remediation efforts are effective,” says Isaac Cuchna, soil testing diagnostician for the lab.  

Cuchna has been managing operations for the lab for the past year, following the lab’s move to the NDSU Department of Plant Pathology. The move has been advantageous for the lab, forging new connections with NDSU’s successful plant diagnostic lab.  

The soil testing lab has seen other changes in the past year, including an increase in the percentage of samples sent in by homeowners looking to improve their lawns and gardens.  

“The highest portion of the soil testing lab’s work has been to support the research of the NDSU Research Extension Centers across the state,” says Jack Rasmussen, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology. “That will always be an important part of the lab’s mission, but we see potential for growth in the service we offer for the state’s home gardeners.”  

Homeowners who submit soil samples will receive detailed information on the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, pH, soluble salts and organic matter in their soils, along with customized recommendations to improve their soil.  

In addition to serving more homeowners, Rasmussen and his team are exploring ways to add new services for production agriculture that are not available commercially. The connection with NDSU Plant Pathology research may help open doors for new opportunities in soil testing.  


Isaac Cuchna, 701-231-9465,