STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – As farmers and ranchers across Oklahoma are dealing with the financial repercussions of the 2022 drought, Oklahoma State University Extension offices across the state are offering reduced-fee lab testing to ease their burden.

From Oct. 5 – Dec. 31, the Soil, Water and Forage Analytical Laboratory at OSU is offering reduced costs for nitrate toxicity, forage and feed testing, and livestock water testing.

“We understand the growing stress that farmers and ranchers are feeling as a result of continued drought,” said Damona Doye, associate vice president, OSU Extension. “We want to assist them in making the best possible decisions for their operations in a challenging time. Appropriate tests can help producers avoid costly mistakes. We hope that discounting the costs of testing services during this critical period encourages more use of our testing facility and makes the tests accessible to all.”

Testing rates are:

  • Nitrate toxicity: $2 (was $6)
  • Basic forage: $4 (was $14)
  • Livestock water: $5 (was $15)

“Severe drought and other stressful conditions can reduce forage quality and result in nitrate concentration to toxic levels for sorghum and johnsongrass,” Hailin Zhang, a professor in the OSU Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and testing lab director, said. “Forage quality or nitrate testing can optimize livestock rations and avoid cattle poisoning.”

In addition, drought can have an adverse effect on ponds used as a water source for livestock. If a new well is used, Zhang said water quality should be checked.

Producers who want to test soil, water or forage should contact their local county OSU Extension office for assistance in submitting samples.

County Extension educators are well informed on the forages harvested in their areas and can conduct testing for farmers and ranchers. OSU Extension offices also provide sample bags, water bottles, tools and technical assistance for collecting and shipping samples, in addition to results analysis.

OSU officials say with the expected increase in submitted samples, results may take a little longer than the typical two- to five-day turnaround.