RALEIGH, N.C. — Peak-season soil testing fees are set to take effect Dec. 1 through March 31, 2022, pending final approval by the N.C. Board of Agriculture at its Nov. 19 meeting. Submitting soil samples to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Services lab before that date will mean growers and homeowners can avoid the $4 per sample fee.
Fall is the busiest time of the year for the soil testing lab. The peak-season fee of $4 per sample started in 2013 to encourage early sampling in the fall. The other times of the year, outside peak-season, soil testing service is free. Samples with completed soil information forms must be physically delivered and received by the Agronomic Services Division by 5 p.m. on Nov. 30, to avoid the peak-season fee. Information forms for all soil samples must be present for samples to be received. Growers are encouraged to ship their samples early since unexpected shipping delays can result in peak-season fees being charged.
“Agriculture and agribusiness represent our No. 1 industry at $95.9 billion. Soil sampling is a sound investment by growers as it provides the specific scientific recommendations to optimize crop production and to avoid applying excess and unneeded nutrients, which are costly to growers,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I encourage growers to sample early to avoid the peak-season fee, but if that is not possible, know that these fees are reinvested into the lab to continue to improve efficiency.”
Customers wanting to drop off samples at the Eaddy Building can do so at the loading dock during normal business hours as the main building is closed to the public. Samples can be dropped off 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week until 5 p.m. on Nov. 30. During the peak-fee period, sample drop-off times are between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except during state holidays. Access to the loading dock is not available weekends during the fee period.
“The Agronomic Services Division continues to take great precautions to ensure safe, customer friendly service to growers with new signage, clearly marked directions to the loading dock and a protective kiosk to interact with staff,” Troxler said.
Growers needing a supply of sample boxes or shippers are advised to call the Agronomic Division several hours before arriving so that they can pick up their needed items without experiencing a delay. Boxes can also be picked up at N.C. Cooperative Extension offices.
Growers are highly encouraged to submit soil sample information forms online for faster and more accurate uploading of their information. Fees can be paid with a credit card using PayPoint, a secure online payment service. Online submission can be accessed through the PALS homepage at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/ after a user account is established.
Up-to-date sample turnaround times can be found at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/.
For more information, contact the Agronomic Services Division at 919-664-1600.
–David Hardy, NCDA&CS