RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Agronomic Services Lab announces its peak-season testing fee effective Dec. 1 through March 31. Samples must be delivered by 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, to avoid being charged peak-season fees.
During this peak-season time period, the cost of soil testing is $4 per sample. The fee originated in 2013 to encourage earlier sampling in the fall, one of the busiest times of the year for the lab. By submitting samples before Dec. 1, users can avoid peak-season fees and get results back quickly. Outside of the peak-season, soil testing is free to growers. Samples with completed soil sample information forms must be delivered and received by the Agronomic Services Division prior to Dec. 1 to avoid the fee. Samples will not be accepted without completed paperwork.
“Despite the pandemic, the agricultural industry has marched forward and continues to be our number one economic driver in the state. Soil fertility is critical to crop success, and soil testing can help ensure optimimal plant growth,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “I encourage growers to try to get samples submitted early to avoid the fee; however, the fee does help our Agronomic Division continue to provide one of the best soil testing services in the United States.”
Growers are reminded that all money collected during the fee period is dedicated to improvements in the soil testing lab as well as hiring additional staff for the peak-season.
Due to the pandemic, the Eaddy Building is closed to the public, but growers still have access to the loading dock seven days a week, 24 hours a day until Monday, Nov. 30, at 5 p.m. at which time the gate to Agronomic Division property will close. During the fee period, sample drop-off times will be between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except during state holidays. There will be no after-hours drop-off times for samples during peak season.
Growers who visit the loading dock will find new signage and directions of where to unload and pick-up sample supplies. If interaction with clients is necessary, a new protective kiosk can be used.
“The division has taken a lot of precaution in delivering safe, customer-friendly service during the pandemic,” Troxler said. If growers need supplies, they are advised to call a day or at least several hours ahead of arrival so supplies will be ready for pickup.
As to submitting samples, growers are encouraged to submit sample information forms online, so their information can be accurately and quickly uploaded into the database system. Peak-season fees can be paid with a credit card using a secure online payment service called PayPoint. Online submission can be accessed through the PALS homepage at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/ after a user account is established under the Utility link.
Up-to-date turnaround times can always be found at www.ncagr.gov/agronomi/PALS/.
If faster turnaround time is needed, the lab offers an expedited soil testing service on a limited basis.
Growers can purchase expedited shippers, which can hold up to 36 soil samples, for $200 each while supplies last. The service guarantees a seven-business-day turnaround time if the lab is contacted and notified 24 hours in advance of the quantity being delivered. Otherwise, the guaranteed turnaround time of two weeks upon delivery at the lab is offered. These guarantees exclude the Christmas season. Unused expedited shippers can be used in following years. Currently, only a small supply of expedited shippers is available.
Contact the Agronomic Services Division at 919-733-2655 for questions regarding the peak-season soil testing fee, online sample submission or the purchase of expedited shippers.