Most Extension centers can do 'quick' nitrate test
Staff at most University of Missouri Extension centers in southwest Missouri are able to provide a "quick" test on forages to indicate whether nitrates are present.
During the 2012 season, the following counties will offer nitrate testing: Barry, Barton, Christian, Dallas, Hickory, Jasper, Lawrence, McDonald, Newton, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster. The following counties will not offer nitrate testing: Cedar, Dade and Greene.
The drought this summer has increased the likelihood of nitrate accumulations in several forages and feed sources such as johnsongrass, sudangrass, and corn. High nitrate levels are a concern in fresh forages or in hay because it can be fatal to livestock.
Testing is the best way to determine whether a forage is safe to feed or not. However, when a "quick" test is done it does not reveal how high the nitrate levels are.
Quantitative testing for forage nitrate levels is available through several private laboratories and universities. Materials to submit a sample can be picked up at most MU Extension offices.
Please call prior to taking a sample to a MU Extension center for testing. Several offices have secretaries who are willing to test for nitrates while other offices only offer the testing service if a specific specialist is in.