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Indiana's Mississippi River Basin Soil Sampling Program

  • About

    The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and partners throughout the state have worked with the Gulf Hypoxia Program (GHP) to develop a project with a focus on increasing the knowledge and use of soil sampling as a nutrient management practice to benefit farm operations.

    ISDA promotes the importance of nutrient management and the principle of the 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework. The 4R Nutrient Stewardship framework incorporates using the “Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, and Right Place” to achieve cropping system goals. This program focuses on soil sampling because it is a key component, and first step, of developing a plan for nutrient management. If used effectively, soil sampling provides an assessment of the soil’s fertility which can be used for making fertilizer application recommendations, assessing available nutrients over time, increase farmer profitability, and enhance environmental protection by reducing the risk of nutrient loss.

  • Eligibility Requirements

    This program includes row crop fields, pastures, and specialty crops located within Indiana’s portion of the Mississippi River Basin.

    Participating growers will be prioritized by:

    • Fields that have never been sampled before, or
    • Fields that haven’t been sampled regularly (i.e., not sampled within the last 3-4 years), and
    • New program enrollments.

    Further prioritization may be implemented based on interest in the program.

    Not sure if a field is within the Mississippi River Basin? Use this tool to check eligibility!

    Find my Watershed

    *Hobby, or personal, gardens, private lawns, and manure sampling are not eligible for this program.

  • How It Works

    This program will provide soil sampling and analysis at no cost to the producer along with lab recommendations for nutrient applications based on yield goals and soil test results.

    Producers will work with ISDA staff to coordinate soil sampling and to provide the best available information for the most accurate recommendations. Soil sampling will take place prior to fertilizer application.

    Samples will be submitted to contracted labs for routine soil fertility testing which includes:

    • Organic matter
    • Available Phosphorus
    • Exchangeable Potassium
    • Magnesium
    • Calcium
    • Soil pH
    • Buffer pH
    • Cation Exchange Capacity
    • % Base Saturation of Cation Elements

    Nutrient application recommendations will be made by labs using the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for applicable crops.

    A minimum of two soil samples will be collected per field with 4 samples being the maximum collected per field. However, this program has the flexibility to collect additional samples if appropriate circumstances or needs come up. ISDA reserves the right not to collect samples.

    Growers may inquire about additional tests. However, ISDA cannot guarantee funds to cover these tests.

    Note: If the participant operates an organic cropping system or wants to enroll 10 acres or less, ISDA may refer you to other programs that may be a better fit for the operation.

  • Getting Results

    A result packet will be mailed or sent via email. This packet will include lab results, recommendations, educational materials, and other soil health information.

    Nothern Indiana Soil Test Sample Report

    Southern Indiana Soil Test Sample Report

  • How to Sign-Up

    Based on current capacity, we ask that participants enroll 200 acres or less.

    Producers can register via the online form, by reaching out to their Resource Specialist, by reaching out to the Program Manager at or 317-605-0701, or by stopping by their SWCD office. ISDA will review the submitted registration form and contact the producer to discuss field history and soil sampling activities.

    Online Registration Form

  • Resources for Producers
  • Resources for Certified Crop Advisors

    ISDA will soon be able to work with Ag Retailers and Certified Crop Advisors (CCA) to help collect soil samples. More information to follow soon!

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