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Water Tests - Background Water, like soil, can be best understood as a complex mixture of biological, chemical and physical

interactions. Also, as in soil, nutrients are not static in water, and exist in pools of readily available mineral components, slowly available, bound forms (attached to the surface of particles), and also some that is tied up within the organic matter fraction, or in living organisms. The temperature and biological activity of the water will affect how much is in each pool, whether it is moving from one pool to another (through decomposition for example), and the amount of time the water has been in one place will also have an effect on what is measured. The nutrient tests in these test kits measure only the mineral, or readily available forms of nitrogen and phosphorus. For nitrogen, this may be in the form of nitrate, nitrite or ammonia. Tests are available in commercial laboratories to measure total nitrogen, and a chemical digestion process is used to release all of the nitrogen from the other pools, so that the total amount can be measured. The phosphorus test measures ortho-phosphate, which is sometimes called reactive phosphate. A total phosphorus test from a lab will measure this faction, along with the bound phosphorus on clay particles, and the phosphorus tied up in plant, animal, and decaying organic material. Both nitrogen and phosphorus cycle from one form to another, through microbial and chemical transformations. You don't need to understand all the parts of these cycles to interpret your water tests. The mineral, or readily available fraction that you are measuring is also the fraction that will affect water quality downstream, aquatic life, and at high levels, could cause eutrophication, which is a depletion of oxygen due to excess plant growth. This lack of oxygen is what causes fish kills, which are sometimes used as an indicator that there are problems upstream. Before we look in more detail at the minerals in your water, lets consider some background information. Some sensory indicators, using your eyes, nose, etc., are a good place to start. Color Purpose: This is not a quantitative test, but it is worth noting the color of the water in general terms. Water color is due to a combination of silt, clay and organic matter in the water, along with algae, other plant life, and micro-organisms. A coffee colored brown might indicate tannins in the water, from organic debris high in tannins, such as oak leaves. A lighter brown is probably due to silt loading. A greenish color is from algae in the water. Note that clear water rates the highest in our scoring system (see below), but clear water does not guarantee clean or high quality water. Tools: If your sample container is clear (glass or plastic) that will work for determining water color. A medium sized container is best, so that you are looking through about 2 or 3 inches diameter of water, held up to a light, window, or sunlight out-of-doors. If your sample container is translucent plastic, or opaque, pour about a cup of sample into a clear container for viewing. The clear plexiglass tube used for the turbidity measurement (described in another section) would also work.

Procedure: There are standardized color scales for soil and also for water. Most of these standardized scales have various shades of blue and green, which are not common in Kansas waters. For the purposes of this test kit, we will use the color scale found in Figure XX below. This is not an official scale, but the colors were chosen to be similar to the colors of soil or silt often found in Kansas. Write down a color and also an intensity rating on your data sheet. It is helpful to be able to compare it to other water you have sampled on the same day, and to this same site, sampled on other dates. Note the level of silt you think the water is carrying. You might want to take the color chart to the field with you, and hold it up to the light while viewing your water sampling area in the background. If you bring the sample back to your house or school laboratory, be sure to shake the sample before assigning a color value. If not, the sample you bring back to your house for further testing will appear more or less clear, and will be more difficult to assign a color designation. Figure 6. Water Color Chart Color Description Red Brown

Color Green Intensity 1


Dk Brown

Interpretation: Rate your water quality according to the scale below. Note that we are using the same rating system as that used in the River Friendly Farms notebook. A rating of 4 is the best, 3 is good, 2 is less than good, and 1 means something needs improvement. Data sheets, and scoring sheet can be found in Appendix C. Record the color on the data sheet, and the rating on the rating sheet. Color Rating

4 Water is basically clear, no distinguishing color.

3 Slight tint of green, tan, or brown to the water.

2 There is a murky look to the water, in addition to a dark, distinct color.

Visible oil o natural subst water color.

Odor Purpose: Like color, odor is also not a quantitative measurement. Most samples will not have a distinguishable odor. However, some may have a detectable smell, that can reveal pollution sources that may be present. Tools: The water for this test should be in a clean jar or vial. At least a cup of water will be needed to detect an odor, so collect more than just a small test tube's worth. Several people might want to smell the same sets of samples, and compare notes, since everyone smells things a little differently. The primary tool you'll need here is your nose. Note the general smells in the air in the area of each water sampling site, and also once the sample is in the container and you are back at your house, note the smell of each sample as you open the container. Some natural smells may include fishy, soillike, or musky, and smells caused by industry or non-natural effluent might be chlorine, sulfur (rotten eggs), sewage, manure, or harsh (chemical). Procedure: Swirl the water gently in the container and sniff. If you think you have a particularly polluted sample, use your hand to waft a small amount towards your nose rather than smell it directly. Also, if you are dealing with a sample that may have high E. coli, be careful to not splash any on your face. Interpretation: Record the general odor of each sample of water on the data sheet. This is not a highly scientific reading, but note if you smell nothing, if the sample smells fishy or smells like algae, or it may even have a manure-like smell if livestock or wildlife have been in the stream or pond recently. Then record numeric data on the scorecard using the chart below. Note later on if the odor relates to any of the other numeric data that you have recorded. Odor Rating 4 No detectable odor. 3 Some odor, but basically natural smell of soil, fish, or leaves. 2 Strong odor, not completely pleasant.

Strong, unpl might be ma chemical sm


Purpose: This is another factor that can be measured that can help with the interpretation of other measurements and help you understand more about your stream. KDHE regulations state that "discharge from artificial origin shall not elevate the temperature of the water above 32 oC (90 oF) and not raise the temperature more than 3 oC above natural conditions." This situation would rarely apply to a farm, but is more of a concern for industries such as power plants or wastewater treatment plants' discharge. For your purposes, it is useful to again look at your farm maps, and the monitoring sites along your stream. If you look at the pattern of temperature along the stream, note if it is going up, down, or staying about the same. Warm field runoff could raise the temperature, as would areas where sunlight is directly on the water as in riparian areas without trees. Where trees shade the surface of the water, or where springs or seeps enter the stream, you may note the temperature go down. Certainly, you will note seasonal differences in stream temperature, as well as times of day, as you record this data throughout the year. Temperature, in addition to pH, affects the toxicity of ammonia to fish. The warmer the water, the more toxic the ammonia. If you are monitoring ponds or lakes, you might notice some interesting seasonal differences, and also may observe the temperature stratification that occurs in the winter and summer, and the mixing, or turning of the water body in the spring and fall. In the summer, the warmer water will be in the upper layers. Wind may introduce some mixing effect throughout the year, but a major mixing, or overturn, will occur in the fall. As the upper layers cool due to colder air temperatures, they will begin to sink, once they are colder than the lower layers. The water may appear to be exceptionally cloudy or muddy for a few days. In the winter, stratification, or layering will occur again, this time with the colder water near the top. In the spring, after the ice melts and the water warms, the mixing or overturn may once again be observed. These overturns may also bring up sediment, will change the oxygen content of the water, and may affect the nutrient and other factors measured. If possible, note on your data sheets not only the temperature of the water in the pond or lake, but if you are sampling before, during, or after one of the spring or fall overturn periods. Tools: Use a thermometer that has been especially designed for stream/pond monitoring. This will be a non-mercury thermometer, and ideally will be encased in a hard plastic or other material to reduce the chance of breakage. There will also be a place to tie a string or cord to the top, so that it can be placed in the water without fear of loosing it to the current. One model is listed in the equipment section of the handbook, but other similar models are also fine. Procedure: To monitor temperature, place the thermometer from the kit (or any shielded non-mercury thermometer) on a string or cord, about five or six feet long. When you arrive at each sampling site, place the thermometer under the water, in a representative location. That means, in a stream it is not too close to the edge, or too far out, and also place it at about the depth that you will be collecting water samples from. Tie the string or cord to something on the bank to prevent it from washing downstream. Go ahead and collect the water sample while the thermometer adjusts to the water temperature. Before you leave the site, pull the thermometer from the water and read the temperature. Note that many water thermometers record temperature in centigrade, so record it on the data sheet in centigrade.

Interpretation: Record the actual water temperature on the data sheet. This number, along with pH, will be used to interpret the ammonia level reading. On the chart below, determine which rating best describes the water body that you are monitoring. Record this rating on the scorecard. Temperature Rating 4 Water temperature is below 90 oF (32 oC), and is even cooler in some locations due to shade from trees and/or grass. The varied habitat and temperature allows for more stream/pond species diversity.. Turbidity Purpose: This test measures the light scattering effect of suspended materials in the water, or cloudiness. Again, clay, silt, algae and micro-organisms will affect the turbidity reading. Although turbid water is not necessarily harmful, it can be a sign of more serious problems, such as soil erosion, or excessive algae growth. You will also note higher turbidity readings after a rainfall, and in your field run-off, as compared to base-line stream and pond readings. There are no legal limits on the amount of turbidity in water, but a proposed criteria for the corn-belt region of the U.S. is 10 nephelometric units or less. (Definition - nephelometric - "as measured by optical methods," and is also comparable to the JTU, or Jackson Turbidity Units used in the kit). Turbidity measurements are closely related to another measurement used in laboratories, called "total suspended solids." In this case, the water is simply filtered, and the suspended material is weighed. KDHE guidelines suggest that "suspended solids added to surface waters by artificial sources shall not interfere with the behavior, reproduction, physical habitat, or other factors related to the survival and propagation of aquatic or semi-aquatic life or terrestrial wildlife." Tools: In lakes, oceans, and deep rivers, a standard way to measure turbidity is by using a secchi disk. This disk is painted with alternating black and white quarters, and is lowered on a string or rope until it is not visible. This depth is recorded, and is a measure of the relative clarity of the water. Because many of the locations we are sampling are not deep enough to take a standard secchi disk reading, we are using a modified method. In this case a clear plexi-glass tube and a secchi disk icon are used. These are available through LaMotte, or a modified version could be created at home. 3 Water temperature is below 90 oF (32 oC) throughout the water body (pond, lake, stream or river). 2 Water temperature is above 90 oF (32 oC) at some sampling locations, but this is due to lack of shade and ambient temperature, not industrial or farm run-off.

Effluent from on-farm indu temperature more than 3 ambient, and temperature (32 oC) in se

Procedure: Directions: (Using LaMotte Turbidity tube item #5887) Fill the plexiglass turbidity tube to the 25 mL line. Place the base of the tube on the outline on the Turbidity Chart (see enclosed plastic chart). You will have a choice of comparison icons with a scale of 0, 20, 40, 60, 80, or 100 JTU. Look down through the sample water at the secchi disk icon under the tube. Compare the appearance of the secchi disk icon under the tube to the gray secchi disks on either side of the tube to determine the reading, in JTU (Jackson Turbidity Units). Note: This is difficult at first, and you might want to work with a partner, and compare readings. Work in an area with bright, but not glaring, light. Try squinting your eyes, and holding the sample at various distances from your eyes to blur the overall images, and allow the intensity of the images to dominate your field of vision. Variations: If the reading seems to be between two of the readings on the scale, feel free to interpolate (record a number half way between the others). If the reading is higher than 100 JTU (cant see the bottom at all), pour out half of the sample, and repeat the reading with approximately 12.5 mL of sample water. Then take your result and multiply by 2. If you still cant see the bottom, pour more out until you only have 6 mL of water left in the plexiglass tube. Again, take a reading if possible, and multiply by 4. If you still cant get a reading, note that your reading is greater than 400 JTU, and move on to the next test. Interpretation: Basically, the interpretation of your turbidity reading is "lower is better." If your water is less than 10 JTU, it is not carrying much suspended silt or algae, and is pretty clear. Now look at your longitudinal samples of your stream, from where it enters your farm, to where it leaves, and the points inbetween. Note if the turbidity goes up or down as it flows through your farm, and if it rises at certain points, where field runoff may be a contributing factor. This could indicate soil erosion and run-off, or increased algae in the water due to nutrient runoff. Record the turbidity in JTU on your data sheet, and the score (from table below) on your scorecard. To interpret which line to read for the scorecard, determine if your sample was collected at base flow or during run-off. The third line on this chart is a score for your farm stream. Turbidity Rating 4 Base flow turbidity reading is between 0 and 10 JTU. 3 Base flow turbidity between 10 and 50. 2 Base flow turbidity reading between 50 and 100.

Base flow tu than 100.

Runoff flow turbidity between 0 and 10 JTU.

Runoff flow turbidity between 10 and 100 JTU.

Runoff flow turbidity between 100 and 400

Runoff flow than 400 (ca bottom of th 6 ml).

Turbidity reading is lower where the water leaves your farm as compared to where it enters your farm (water is getting cleaner)

Turbidity reading is the same where the water leaves your farm as compared to where it enters your farm.


Turbidity rea where the wa farm as com it enters you picking up si farm).

pH Purpose: The pH measurement, for water and soil, is measuring whether the water is more acid (lower pH) or basic (higher pH), with a reading of 7.0 as neutral. The pH reading, on its own, does not tell you much about water quality. However, it can give valuable clues as to what else is going on in the water, and the pH will affect things like the solubility of various minerals in the water. KDHE guidelines state that the pH should be between 6.5 and 8.5. Water treatment plants,factories and wastewater treatment plants need to pay close attention to the pH of their effluent. On a farm scale, your activities are unlikely to affect the pH directly, but nutrient loading can have an indirect effect. The minerals in the streambed or lake bottom will determine the starting pH. Water moving across calcareous rocks or soil (typical in Kansas) will tend to have a higher pH than water in streams coming off of granite or other igneous rock (as in Colorado). The next factor affecting the pH of the water is biology and sunlight. On sunny days, rapidly growing algae and plants release oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the water during photosynthesis. This can cause a significant increase in pH levels. At night, the opposite happens, and plants respire, or give off carbon dioxide and take up oxygen from the water. This will lower the pH, since the carbon dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid. If you are tracking pH carefully, note on your data sheets the time of day that your water sample was collected. If possible, collect water at about the same time of day (with respect to sunrise and sunset), when doing repeated measurements. If you are interested in observing this photosynthesis effect, sample the same pool of water, or an indoor aquarium with plants at several times during the day and at night, and record the pH. Fish can also affect the pH of water. They take in oxygen, and give off carbon dioxide, which lowers the pH. If the pH of your water is extremely low, look for other sources of acid. In some regions of the country, acid rain can have an effect on the pH of runoff into streams. This has not been a major problem in Kansas. Decaying plant matter and acidic runoff from mines can also lower pH. A high pH value can influence the toxicity of ammonia to fish. For example, the same amount of ammonia is five to ten times more toxic to fish when the pH is 8.5 as compared to when the pH is 6.5. Check runoff

from recently limed fields, driveways or roadways with limestone rock or screenings if your pH is abnormally high. Tools: pH can be monitored in several ways. If you have access to a lab-bench pH meter (through a local science classroom, for example), that could be used for this monitoring activity. Similarly, there are inexpensive hand-held meters that can be taken to the field, and are fairly accurate when calibrated properly. Both types of meters require either electricity or batteries, and at least 3 standard pH solutions (usually pH 4, 7 and 10) for calibration purposes. The positive aspect of meters is that they can be extremely accurate, to within 1/10th, or sometimes 1/100th of a pH unit. The negative side of a meter, even the expensive meters, is that they should be checked with standard solutions before each use, and the electrode or sensor often needs to be stored in a special solution. There can also be some electronic drift in the meters, so frequent re-checking during a series of readings is also advised. If accuracy is not an issue, and getting within one, or 1/2 of a pH unit is adequate, pH test strips are often more convenient, especially for field use. These are sometimes available in fish or aquarium stores, or can be purchased from scientific supply catalogs. We are recommending the Hach, or similar brand strips. These test strips are wide range (pH 4 to 9), in increments of whole pH units. Some pH tests are more sensitive, and may cover a narrower range, but have readings at the half, as well as whole numbers. In our field testing, we found these test strips to correlate better with KSU water test lab readings than either of our electronic hand held meters. Since we are simply using pH as a descriptive measurement in this kit, and arent studying fish or algae or other specific organisms, this level of accuracy is a good trade-off for the convenience of the test strips, and their relative accuracy. Procedure: Take out the number of strips that youll need for you water samples, and replace the cap. Store the pH test strips at room temperature. The expiration data is stamped on the bottom of the bottle. Dip a test strip into water and remove immediately. Hold the strip level for 15 seconds. Do not shake excess water from the test strip. Compare the pH test pad to the color chart on the bottle. Estimate results if the color on the test pad falls between two color blocks, for example, a pH of 6.5 would be recorded if the color falls between the 6 and the 7 color block when reading. Note: with the pH test, it is extremely important to run samples as fresh as possible. Either run the test in the field while you are still at the sampling site, or as soon as you return to your lab, classroom or kitchen and begin testing samples. Storing the sample at room temperature, or even in the refrigerator can change the pH dramatically after 24 hours. Interpretation: Record the pH reading of your water on the data sheet. Use this reading in the interpretation of the ammonia test. Use the table below to rate the pH

level of your water, and record the appropriate number on the scorecard. Generally, pH is either ok, (rating =4) or not ok (rating=1). pH Rating 4 The water pH is between 6.5 and 8.5. (blank) 3 (blank) 2

The water pH 6.5 or higher

Nutrients - Nitrogen and Phosphorus Purpose: Nutrients are tricky things to measure in water, since they cycle through plants, animals, organic residue; in both soluble and insoluble or unavailable forms. The field tests available only measure the soluble forms of N and P, and will only provide a snapshot in time. However, this is better than no information. Also, this snapshot of soluble N and P will help achieve one of our goals, which is to find out if there are any hot spots on the farm with N or P leaving fields or livestock lots and getting into streams or ponds. Base line samples that you collect of your stream, pond, and other water will probably have very low or unmeasureable levels or N and P, since most of the soluble forms will have been taken up by algae or other plants. This doesnt mean that there isnt any N or P in the water. There are lab tests available for total N and total P, in which they digest a sample with strong acid, and extract all of the N and P from the unavailable forms, into a soluble form which can be measured. If you would like to have more specific information about a water body on your farm, these tests could be requested from a lab. The three forms of nitrogen that can be measured with field test kits include nitrate, nitrite and ammonia. The phosphorus field test measures ortho-phosphate. Simplified nitrogen and phosphorus cycles are illustrated in figures xx and xx. These diagrams are primarily for water, but a similar cycle can be illustrated for N and P in the soil. Carbon, and other nutrients also cycle, but are not illustrated here, or tested in this kit.

Figure 7. Nitrogen Cycle in Water (test kit samples nitrate, nitrite, and ammonia)

Tools: Nitrate Nitrogen (NO3-N) and Nitrite Nitrogen (NO2-N) - Test strips are recommended for this field test kit. These are convenient, inexpensive, and relatively accurate as compared to commercial laboratory analysis. These can be obtained from stores selling aquarium supplies and science supply catalogs. The brand tested for this kit is manufactured by Hach, and tests nitrate (range 1-50 ppm) and nitrite (range 0.15-3.0) on the same test strip. This is adequate for most field samples. Procedure: Nitrate Nitrogen (NO3-N) and Nitrite Nitrogen (NO2-N) - Two tests are on the same test strip, but are located on two separate pads on the strip. Take out the number of test strips required for your samples, place on a clean, dry surface, and replace the cap. Label the test strips with the sample number, or place on a numbered paper towel or sheet of paper. Store these test strips at room temperature, with the lid tightly closed. Directions: Dip a strip into your sample for 1 second. Do not leave it in the water to soak, and also do not shake the excess water from the strip. Hold the strip level, or place on clean, level paper towel for 30 seconds. Note the color of the top pad, as compared to the upper comparison chart on the bottle. This is the nitrate test, which actually measures nitrate plus nitrite.

After 60 seconds, note the color of the lower test pad, as compared to the second set of color comparisons. This is the nitrite test. Leave the strip undisturbed for another couple of minutes. Read both color pads again, at what might be considered their "maximum" color intensity. Note when the color starts to fade. Record the maximum intensity numbers for nitrate and nitrite on you data sheet. If there was nitrite in the sample, subtract that number from the nitrate test, and write down the nitrate level. The units are nitrate-N and nitrite-N, in ppm (mg/mL). Note: We compared reading the strips at 30 and 60 seconds (for nitrate and ammonia respectively), with the "maximum" method, and found that reading the nitrate at 30 / 60 seconds consistently gave us a low reading as compared to the KSU water test lab. The "maximum color" reading correlated well, and the values were comparable. So, even though the bottle says to read the color at 30 and 60 seconds, we recommend the "revised" version of this test. Interpretation - Nitrate Nitrogen (NO3-N): Anything over zero in streams or ponds may be a concern. However, 10 ppm is the maximum contaminant level in drinking water. Due to ambient levels in many groundwater sources, many municipal water systems will test at about 2 ppm. There is no KDHE aquatic life criteria for nitrate in surface water, but if nitrate is detected, it could lead to increased plant growth in the water, which causes decreased oxygen, which then can stress or kill fish and other aquatic life that depends on oxygen. In our sampling of pilot test farms, most stream, pond, and field samples had no detectable, or very low levels of nitrate N (below 1 ppm). However, soil water extracts needs to contain sufficient N for crop growth during the summer months. A "late spring nitrate test" developed by researchers in Iowa and Vermont found that 20 to 25 ppm nitrate-N in a 50:50 soil/water extract was adequate for crop growth. However, a stream sample of this magnitude could lead to eutrophication and fish kills. We occasionally found high N levels in water, when sampling next to recently fertilized corn fields. These samples were 50+ ppm nitrate N. Record the actual nitrate N value on the data sheet, and the rating below on your scorecard. Nitrate Rating 4 No detectable nitrate N. 3 Nitrate N detectable, but less than 1 ppm. 2 Nitrate N between 1 and 10 ppm.

Nitrate N hig ppm.

Interpretation - Nitrite Nitrogen (NO2-N): The maximum contaminant level in human drinking water is 1ppm nitrite N (NO2-N) and 10 ppm in livestock drinking water. (check this) However in streams and ponds, the level should be at or near zero. There are also no KDHE aquatic life criteria for this nutrient. However, it is important as part of the nitrogen cycle, and it is a precursor to other forms of nitrogen, all of which can cause eutrophication, or toxic conditions caused by lack of oxygen. We rarely detected nitrite under base flow conditions in our preliminary study, but occasionally had small, but detectable amounts during run-off events. Nitrite Rating 4 No nitrite N detected. (blank) 3 2 Nitrite N greater than one and less than 10.

Nitrite N hig ppm.

Tools - Ammonia Nitrogen (NH4-N): The directions that follow use the ammonia nitrogen test available from Hach. A bottle of 25 test strips come with three clear plastic vials for mixing. To order, see the materials and equipment section of this handbook. These test strips are sensitive to levels between 0.25 and 6.0 ppm NH4-N. Procedure - Ammonia Nitrogen (NH4-N): Rinse the three water sample tubes that come with the test strip kit in distilled water and drain. Take out the same number of test strips as you have samples of water, and place them on a clean, dry place. Label the strips, or a paper towel or clean paper with the water sample numbers. Store these test strips at room temperature with the cap tightly secured. The expiration data is on the bottom of the bottle. Directions: Fill the sample vial to the top line with the water sample Dip the strip into the water sample. Vigorously move the strip up and down in the water sample for 30 seconds, making sure both pads are always submerged. Remove the test strip, and shake off excess water. Hold the test strip level, with the pad side UP, for 30 seconds. To read the strip, now turn the test strip OVER so that both pads are DOWN, and hold it so that the pads are facing away from you. It is helpful to have good lighting in the room where you are doing this reading. Compare the color of the small pad to the color chart on the bottle. Read the result through the clear plastic of the test strip. Note: these samples also change after 30

seconds, but in our experience, they become less accurate if you wait. Read these at the time intervals stated on the bottle, after 30 seconds in the water, plus 30 seconds out of the water. 7. Rinse the sample vial with distilled water after each use and drain. Note: for this test, we highly recommend also running a side-by-side sample with distilled water. For some reason, we often get a low level ammonia reading (0.25 or lower) with this test, even in distilled water. If this is the case when you run your test, subtract the level obtained with distilled water from the level obtained from your sample water. Because at high pH and high temperature, even a small amount of ammonia nitrogen can be toxic, it is important to try to be accurate, even at low concentrations. Interpretation - Ammonia Nitrogen (NH4-N): This nutrient form has both acute and chronic toxic affects on aquatic life. To calculate whether the level in the water is toxic at either the acute or chronic level, you must also know the temperature and pH of the water. Refer back to your data sheets, where the pH and temperature have been recorded. Now complete the scorecard using the following two tables. First note if your ammonia value is above or below the levels listed in Table 1, for acute concentration criteria. If it is above the level that corresponds to your temperature and pH, you can complete the scorecard (rating = 1). If your value is lower than the values in Table xx, proceed to Table xx, for chronic concentration criteria. Table 1. Acute Concentration Criterion (Total Ammonia as mg/L or ppm N) Temperature (Degrees Celsius) pH 6.50 6.75 7.00 7.25 7.50 7.75 8.00 0 42 38 33 28 21 15 10 5 39 36 32 26 19 14 9 10 37 34 30 25 19 13 9 15 36 33 29 24 18 13 8 20 34 32 28 23 18 12 8 25

8.25 8.50 8.75 9.00

5 3 2 1

5 3 2 1

5 3 2 1

5 3 2 1

5 3 2 1

Table 2. Chronic Concentration Criterion (Total Ammonia as mg/L or ppm N) Temperature (Degrees Celsius) pH 6.50 6.75 7.00 7.25 7.50 7.75 8.00 8.25 8.50 8.75 9.00 0 2.20 2.58 3.12 4.27 3.18 2.23 1.46 0.83 0.47 0.27 0.16 5 2.06 2.41 2.96 3.99 3.00 2.11 1.37 0.78 0.45 0.26 0.15 10 1.95 2.31 2.77 3.80 2.87 2.01 1.31 0.75 0.43 0.25 0.15 15 1.90 2.20 2.71 3.62 2.75 1.93 1.27 0.73 0.43 0.25 0.16 20 1.81 2.13 2.63 3.55 2.69 1.86 1.26 0.73 0.43 0.26 0.17 25

Ammonia Rating 4 3 2

Ammonia-N level is zero or non-detectable.

Ammonia level is detectable, but below the level that would cause chronic toxicity to aquatic life (Table 2).

Ammonia level is high enough that it would cause chronic toxicity, but not acute (higher than Table 2, but lower than the value in Table 1).

Ammonia-N cause acute t aquatic life ( in Table 1).

Phosphorus: Purpose of test: As with nitrogen, excess phosphorus in surface water can be taken up by living plants and algae, which results in lower oxygen levels in the water, and eutrophication, and possible fish-kills. Phosphorus can enter surface water from many sources, including industrial waste, sewage treatment plant effluent, or septic system discharge or leakage. Some municipal sewage treatment plants are allowed a certain level of discharge into rivers and streams (using a permitting process), but rural homeowner septage is not allowed to contaminate surface water. Field run-off from fertilizers or manure applications can also raise the levels of phosphorus in surface water, as will livestock lot, manure storage, or compost yard run-off. Field run-off sources can be minimized by incorporation of nutrients, reducing soil erosion through various conservation efforts, and by establishing perennial grass field buffers and berms. The phosphorus cycle in water is similar to the nitrogen cycle in the sense that it is present in both soluble (ortho-phosphate) and insoluble (organic residue, etc) forms. It is also true that microbial decomposition plays a role in the movement of one form of phosphorus to another, but there aren't as many forms of phosphorus to monitor. Phosphorus is different than nitrogen as it can be tightly adsorbed onto clay particles, or be part of the organic matter of the soil, and so travels with the soil more than nitrogen. For example, in our field sampling, if we found silt-laden field runoff, we often found phosphorus in the water sample. Figure 8. Phosphorus Cycle in Water (test kit samples ortho-phosphate)

Tools - Chemets ortho-phosphate test: The test kits uses the molybdenum blue method, and for the lower range determinations, utilize a stannous chloride reduction. Phosphate reacts with ammonium molybdate and is then reduced by stannous chloride to form a blue complex. Results are expressed as ppm (mg/L) PO4. Most environmental phosphorus data is expressed as elemental, or PO4 -P. Take the PO4 value determined from the kit and divide by 3 to get PO4 -P. Store this kit at room temperature. There are no test strip kits available for phosphorus, and other kits that we examined involved procedures that were more complex than Chemets, which would be difficult to perform in the field, or even in a classroom or kitchen. The Chemets tests were also relatively accurate, and will help one to know if their water has excess P or not. Procedure: The water sample should be as fresh as possible (less than 24 hours since sampling) and stored in the refrigerator if not sampled immediately. If the sample has settled, shake it to disperse the sediment before taking the lid off and beginning this procedure. Fill the sample cup (in the black Chemets case) to the 25 mL mark with the sample.

Add 2 drops of A-8500 Activator Solution. Cap the sample cup and shake it to mix the contents well. Place the Chemet ampoule in the sample cup with the pointed end down. Snap the tip by pressing the ampoule against the side of the cup. The ampoule will fill, leaving a small bubble to facilitate mixing. Holding the ampoule at a diagonal in the cup, and bracing the tip against the side will help. You have to push hard, especially the first time you do this. Mix the contents of the ampoule by inverting it several times, allowing the bubble to travel from end to end each time. Wipe all liquid from the exterior of the ampoule. Wait 2 minutes for color development. Now hold the Chemets ampoule next to the 1-10 ppm comparison tubes in the lid of the Chemets box. Read the color closest to the color in the tube, or estimate the value if it is between two color intensities. If the blue color in the sample tube is lighter than 1 ppm, place the sample tube into the center section of the "comparator" tube located in the right hand section of the box. Hold this tube up to a light or to sunlight, and look at the intensity of the color as compared to the 0 to 1.0 scale. Read the number closest to the value in the sample. To convert phosphate (PO4) to Phosphorus (P), divide by 3. This is the convention for reporting results. Trouble-shooting: Sometimes the samples will appear cloudy, or gray looking rather than a shade of blue, especially if you are sampling water with a heavy silt load. This can be especially problematic in high water right after a rainfall, or when sampling field run-off. Try running these water samples through filter paper, and then repeat the Chemets test. Many detergents contain phosphates, so do NOT wash sampling bottles, or the sample shaker in this kit with soap or detergent. Simply rinse two or more times with distilled water and air dry. Phosphorus can adhere to plastic, so if a high P sample stands in a plastic container for a long time, the container should rinsed with dilute acid before it is used for other samples, or discard the container. Interpretation: Since ortho-phosphorus is so rapidly taken up by plants and microorganisms, it is rarely found in surface water unless there are recent additions from some source. Thus, any detectable phosphorus, using the Chemets field test, means that eutrophication (overgrowth of plants and algae) could occur. The KDHE has published a level of 0.1 ppm P as a numeric criteria for chronic affects on aquatic life, but there is no published value for drinking water or other water standards. We are using our best judgment in establishing these scores, based on the data collected during the pilot test of these test kits, and in comparing those samples to other Kansas stream and pond data. The Chemets kit gives a reading as PO4, which must be converted by dividing by 3 to get elemental P. Do this before consulting the following table. Ortho-phosphate Rating

4 Zero, or no detectable phosphorus.

3 Phosphorus (P) levels detectable at the 0.1 level or lower. (PO4 less than 0.3)

2 Phosphorus (P) levels between 0.1 and 1.0. (PO4 between 0.3 and 3.0)

Phosphorus ( than 1.0. (PO 3.0)

Total Coliform Bacteria and E. coli Purpose: In addition to the nutrients, other tests you will run on the water include coliform and E. coli. These are both living bacteria, and will be cultured in a quicktest on "petrifilm," while in a lab they generally use a petri-plate. Coliform simply refers to a broad class of bacterial organisms widely found in nature, and coliform in surface water is normal, and may be related to the amount of soil in the water. Coliform bacteria should not be present in well water that is used for a drinking water source, or in your municipal water supply, since it is an indicator of some sort of unintended contamination. E. coli is a bigger concern. E. coli is one species or type of fecal coliform, or bacteria found in the gut of warm blooded animals. Some types of fecal coliform can cause illness in humans, generally mild, but some strains such as E. coli H0157 have been shown to be lethal, especially to the very young or very old. Another important factor about fecal coliforms in general are that they indicate that a water source has been contaminated with feces, and so there may be other water borne diseases present in that water. Within EPA and other groups interested in water quality, the level of E. coli in a water sample has been accepted as an indicator of water quality. High levels indicate a higher risk of not only ingesting fecal coliform and becoming ill from that, but also of contracting other diseases from the water. A "critical level" of zero has been established for drinking water for E. coli and other fecal coliforms. Other levels have been established for swimming and boating, and will be described in the interpretation section.

Tools - 3M Petrifilm E. coli/coliform Count Plate Description: This product is a ready-made culture medium system which contains violet Red Bile (VRB) nutrients, a cold-water-soluble gelling agent, an indicator of glucuronidase activity (5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-B-D-blucuronide) (BCIG), and a tetrazolium indicator that facilitates colony enumeration. Petrifilm EC places are useful for the enumeration of E. coli and coliform bacteria in the food and dairy industries and are decontaminated though not sterilized. Warning: Do not use this plate alone for the detection of E. coli 0157. This is the highly pathogenic form of E. coli, that can cause kidney complications and other problems. Like most other E. coli/coliform media, this plate will not specifically indicate whether any 0157 strain is present. Because most 0157 strains are atypical E.

coli, they will appear as non-E. coli coliforms (red with gas). Caution: 3M has not documented Petrifilm EC plates for use in industries other than food and dairy, for example for the testing of water, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics. Do not use Petrifilm EC plates in the diagnosis of conditions in humans or animals. Storage and Disposal: store unopened Petrifilm plate pouches at temperatures below 46oF. Allow pouches to come to room temperature before opening. Return unused plates to pouch. Prevent exposure to moisture after opening pouches. Store resealed pouches in a cool dry place for no longer than one month. Exposure of plates to temperatures above 77 oF and/or humidities above 50% RH can affect the performance of the plates. Do not use plates that show orange or brown discoloration. Expiration date and lot number are noted on each package of Petrifilm plates. After use, petrifilm EC plates will contain viable bacteria. Put all used Petrifilm in a plastic bag, inside another plastic bag, and take to sanitary landfill or transfer station. Alternatively, mix a mild chlorox solution (10%) and put one dropper full on each exposed plate to kill the coliform prior to disposal.

Procedure: 1. Organize the water samples, and line them up in numerical order. Remove 2 plates for each sample (if you have 5 samples, remove 10 plates) from the pouch. Remove 2 additional plates for your "blank." Number the plates using "a" and "b" as your replicates, for example "1a, 1b, 2a, 2b etc....label the blanks blank-a and blank-b. You will use distilled water as your blank. Return un-used plates to the pouch, put inside a zip-lock bag, and return it to the refrigerator. 2. Remove sterile 1 ml pipettes from your kit. You will need one for each water sample. In this example, you will need six; one for each sample, and one for the blank. Remove the first pipette from its cover, being careful not to touch the tip. Pipette exactly 1 ml of liquid from your first sample to plate 1a. Repeat for plate 1b. Discard the first pipette. After the liquid is on the plate, carefully roll down the cover slip, trying to avoid the formation of bubbles. Gently pick up and roll the plate from side to side to evenly distribute the water. Place down flat. You may stack as many as 20 of these without risk of damage or cross-contamination. Pipette the remainder of your water samples. 3. The ideal incubation temperature for this test is 35 oC (93 oF). At this temperature, the test plates will be able to be counted in 48 hours (2 days). If you can find a warm spot on top of your refrigerator, that would be ideal. Do not place near a heating vent, wood stove, or any other place where they would heat up to higher than 90 oF. Also, take care that they do not dry out by placing in a large plastic bag. If you are incubating the plates at 80 oF, they may be ready to read in 3 days. At 70 oF, wait at least 4 days for the bacteria to grow. 4. Count the plates in a well-lit area, on a slide sorter, or other area with good lighting. First, count the number of pink dots. These are primarily coliform colonies, and represent several different types of bacteria that are normal and natural in nature. In fact, in good healthy soils, we would prefer to have more of these rather than less,

along with other microbes such as fungi, nematodes, and others. However, in drinking water, you would like to see zero if possible, though these arent necessarily pathogenic or harmful. In streams, rivers, lakes and ponds, the presence of coliform simply indicate the presence of soil, sediment, or other source of coliform. If there are more than 20 or 30 pink colonies, count one small square and multiply by 20, or two small squares and multiply by 10, since there are about 20 squares in the plate. This will give you an estimate. If the entire plate turns into pink and blue blotches, write "tmtc" on your data sheet (too many to count). This means that the next time you collect a sample from this location, you will need to dilute it, using a ratio of 1:10, 1:100, or more. 5. Now count the blue dots or colonies. These are the E. coli (Esterschy coliform) that indicate fecal contamination. Follow the same procedure as above, where there are more than 20 or 30 dots, count one or two squares and multiply. There is some discrepancy in methods of interpretation for this test, in the matter of counting only colonies with gas bubbles, vs. counting all colonies. Our correlation tests with a commercial lab showed as good a result with counting all colonies, vs. only with gas, and so for the sake of simplicity and accuracy, we are recommending that you ignore the gas bubbles, and count all colonies. Write the number of blue dots, or E. coli colonies down on your data sheet. Your units are "colony forming units" (cfu) per 1 ml. Multiply by 100 to compare to national and other standards, which are usually calculated on a 100 ml basis. Additional Test - 3M Quick Swab Description/Intended Use: The 3M quick Swab is a ready-to use environmental swab system intended to be used in the food and beverage industry for surface sampling. The quick Swab is designed to be used with any 3M Petrifilm Plate or Redigel test. It consists of a five inch long Dacron tipped swab that used a letheen broth to facilitate the recovery of bacteria. Letheen broth has been found to neutralize iodine, chlorine, halogen, quaternary ammonium, acid sanitizers and other residual sanitizers remaining on the surfaces after pre-operation or post-operation sanitation. The 3M Quick Swab will deliver approximately 1.0 ml of sample onto a Petrifilm plate if used in the prescribed manner. Cautions: Do not use the 3M Quick Swab more than once. Do not use in the diagnosis of conditions in humans or animals. Storage and Disposal: Store all 3M Quick Swabs at temperatures less than 46 oF. Exposure of 3M Quick Swabs to temperature of over 77oF can affect the performance of the swabs. Lot numbers and expiration dates are noted on each box or case of 3M Quick Swabs. Once used, the Quick Swab may contain viable bacteria that may be a potential biohazard, so dispose of carefully. Prior to use, visually inspect the swab. Use only if the letheen broth is in the bulb end of the swab, and the broth color is clear amber not turbid or cloudy. Directions for use: Label the swab.

Hold the top bulb end of the swab and twist the lower part of the swab tube to separate the swab end from the tube end. Do not pull open. Bend the red snap valve at a 45o angle, or until you hear a snapping sound.This step will release the letheen broth so that it flows through the hollow shaft of the swab and onto the swab tip. Squeeze the bulb to transfer all of the letheen broth to the tube. To remove swab from the tube, twist and pull upward on the bulb end. Swab the targeted area (about 1 square inch or more, not just a single swipe). Firmly place the swab back into tube. We recommend that you plate the letheen broth swab solution as soon as possible To prepare the swab for plating, shake the swab vigorously for 10 seconds to release the bacteria from the swab tip. Remove and discard the swab. Pour the entire contents of the tube onto a 3M Petrifilm Plate and discard the tube end of the swab. Count the coliform and E. coli bacteria following the procedure outlined in steps 3-5 under general procedure for using the plates, above. Interpretation: The ratings below apply to surface water only. If you are using the petrifilm to test your drinking water or the Quick Swabs to test a food product, the standard for E. coli is zero. For surface water, we are using the 200 cfu/100 ml criteria for contact recreation, and the 2000 cfu/100 ml level for non-contact recreation as our threshold levels. We are not establishing a rating or criteria for the total coliform bacteria (pink dots) in the test. However, from your data sheets you might note if there are patterns with these data, as well as with E. coli at different times of year, at different sampling sites, or at high vs. baseline flow water. E. Coli Ratings 4 None detected. 3 E. coli detected, but below the 200 cfu/100 ml limit (less than 2 per plate) 2 E. coli greater than 200, but below the 2000 cfu/100 ml level (2-20 cfu/plate)

E. coli greate cfu/100 ml ( per plate).

Figure 9. Photograph of Coliform and E. coli Bacteria on Petrifilm.

Triazines: Purpose: The final test in the kit is for a class of pesticides called triazines. This is an immunoassay technique, set to indicate if the level in the water is above or below the Federal standard of 3 parts per billion (ppb). The triazines; atrazine and simazine, are herbicides used in crops like corn and sorghum. Atrazine is a particular concern, because it has been found above the 3 ppb in several Kansas streams and rivers, especially during high spring run-off times, and has been implicated as an estrogen mimic in the environment. This means that even very low levels in water can affect the endocrine systems of certain wildlife, with negative consequences for species reproduction. Tools - WaterSafeTM Test for Pesticides in Drinking water: The WaterSafeTM test is designed to detect the triazines: atrazine and simazine, callibrated to US EPA maximum contaminant level (MCL) for drinking water, which is 3 ppb for atrazine, and 4 ppb for simazine. The test uses a patented immunoassay technology, and requires no filtration, extraction, or user training. Tests may be performed on water with pH range 5-9, solids 0-2%, and temperature range 5-40 oC. There is no significant interference from the triazines and their metabolites and other classes of pesticides (less than 1% cross reactivity) in this test. Applications include community water systems, home water systems, domestic wells, and field testing. Procedure: Remove the kit from the foil pouch. Keep all components clean, and place on a level surface.

Label the test strip with the date and sample identification (name or number). Mix water sample. Collect water sample in the dropper/pipette. Fill the tube provided with the test to the line. Insert the test strip and leave undisturbed. Note the time, or start a timer. Wait 10 minutes. Do not disturb the test during this time. As the test begins to work, two blue lines will appear in the result window. Read the result exactly 10 minutes after adding the test strip. Results may change after 10 minutes. Read the result. Results are determined by comparing the darkness of the two blue lines in the results window. Negative Result - If line 1 is darker than line 2, the sample is negative. Positive Result - If line 2 is darker than line 1, or if the lines are equally dark, the sample is positive. When line 1 appears to be darker than line 2, even by a very small amount, the sample is negative. A small difference in darkness does not indicate a "borderline" result. If you are not sure whether line 1 is darker than line 2, you should consider the sample positive. If no lines appear, or only one line appears, the result is not valid. Interpretation: 3 ppb is the numeric criteria for drinking water, and has also been suggested as the maximum average level allowable in rivers and streams for Kansas. However, the KDHE guidelines suggest that 1 ppb is a numeric criteria for chronic effects on aquatic life, and several studies in the scientific literature show that atrazine, along with several other compounds in the environment can have long term effects on both aquatic and non-aquatic life in very small amounts, as an estrogen mimic. These studies are controversial however, and for the purposes of this test kit, only values at or above 3 ppb limit are detectable. Triazine Rating 4 No detectable triazines. (blank) 3 (blank) 2

Detectable tr than 3 ppb).

Introduction to Soils: To design a good sampling plan for soil and water testing, one needs to consider the basic facts related to soil formation and water cycling. For both soil and water, we are

dealing with complex systems, where biological, chemical and physical factors all interact. Also, soil and water are interconnected, and farming practices affect both soil and water quality. A brief explanation of some of these basic factors related to soils will be covered in this section.

Soil Formation and Conservation The process of soil formation has been going on since the surface of the earth cooled. The factors that determine what the soil looks like now include; 1) parent material (the rock from which it formed), 2) time (is this a "young" soil or an "old" soil), 3) climate, 4) topography, and 5) biological processes. The parent material, or rock, will often determine the basic chemistry of the soil. Soils formed from limestone for example, will have a native, or natural pH that is higher than soil formed from other materials. If one looks at a soil profile, or cross section, you will find the parent material, or rock in the lower layers. In Kansas, most of our soils have been formed from limestone, shale, or sandstone. Some soils have been formed from an original soil that was formed in another region, and then moved. Soil deposited by water, for example a river, are called alluvium. Wind deposited soils, common in parts of the great plains, are called loess. The time that a soil has had to form will often affect the amount of layering, or differentiation from the top of the profile to the bottom. An older soil will have a "topsoil" layer, that will be darker, and higher in organic matter (from centuries of contributed plant and animal matter), and the lower layers will be progressively lighter in color, and generally lower in organic matter and nutrient content. An example of a "young" soil would be an area where a river has recently deposited soil, or alluvium, to a particular area. In parts of the world with active volcanoes, the volcanic ash layers will begin to form soil layers, and then may be covered again by ash. In some of these areas, one can find buried soil horizons. A soil that is nearly the same color throughout the profile, especially when there is little change in the properties of the profile horizons is probably a young soil. Climate also affects soil formation. In hot climates, many of the minerals will be oxidized, and the iron in the soil and clay will be a reddish color, rather than gray or black. Organic matter will also decompose more rapidly in a hot climate, and within the great plains region, the native soils in Minnesota will be darker, and much higher in organic matter than those in Texas. Rainfall also affects soil formation. In areas of extremely high annual rainfall, some minerals, and in some cases, organic matter will have been leached from the topsoil to a lower layer. The pH may be lower on these soils, due to the leaching of calcium from the topsoil. Areas of low rainfall, especially where annual rainfall is less than the annual evaporation, will accumulate minerals, including calcium and other salts on the surface. Topography often affects how much erosion has taken place. Soils on top of hills or on steep side slopes tend to be thinner, or more eroded than those on the slopes, and at the bottom or "toe" of a slope, one can find zones of soil accumulation. Management, along with topography will also affect how much erosion has, and is continuing to

take place. The thinner, or more eroded soils will often be lower in organic matter, since they have lost their topsoil layer. The clays in the subsoil layers are then on the top. A field that is "patchy" in color will probably have had some erosion historically. Biological processes that affect soil have historically been determined by the native or natural vegetation. Soils that form under forests are very different than those that have formed in grassland regions. Much of the soil in the great plains was formed when the region was covered by prairie grasses. This soil is very fertile, and rich in organic matter compared to soils of other regions. The deep grass roots added organic matter to a depth of several feet in some cases, leading to the formation of the rich, dark soils that have made Kansas the "breadbasket" of the world. Tillage, and planting of annual crops on these soils has halted this addition of organic matter, but reduced tillage and adding perennial crops into the rotation can help maintain the organic matter that is left. The nutrient content of soil now will be a combination of; 1) the starting natural fertility of the parent material (Kansas soils, for example, tend to be naturally high in potassium), 2) the subtraction of nutrients as a result of erosion and crop use since the land has been tilled (generally for the past 100 years or so), and 3) additions of fertilizer sources such as manures, composts, legumes, and mineral fertilizers. When designing a soil sampling program, one needs to consider all of these factors. Knowing the soil type (from soil survey maps), topography, and field histories (crops grown and fertility sources) will help you design a plan to answer specific farm management questions.

Soil tests for macronutrients, pH, organic matter and infiltration Soil testing has been around as a science for almost 100 years, and is commonly used to determine if nutrients are sufficient for crop growth and optimal yield. Macronutrients are those required by the crop in the largest amounts. These are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). These tests are widely available through KSU, crop consultants, and independent laboratories. Micronutrient tests are also available from many labs. These are also required for crop growth, but in smaller amounts than the macronutrients. These are usually only a problem in specific situations, for example on an unusual soil type. The pH, or acidity of the soil is also important to measure, since the pH affects crop growth, and has an influence on the availability of both macro and micronutrients. A pH near neutral, or 6.0 to 7.0 is optimal for most crops, and also is the range in which most nutrients are available. Soil quality is a generalized term, that includes the soil nutrient status, but also considers other factors such as how well the soil takes in water, holds onto water, and other factors sometimes lumped under the term "tilth." Soil quality considers a combination of soil biological, chemical, and physical properties. One of the most important aspects of soil quality is the organic matter content of the soil. By measuring this factor in your soil, and by repeatedly measuring it over a period of years, you can get an idea of whether your soil quality is improving or degrading as a result of your cropping and soil amendment practices.

The soil organic matter is not a uniform pool of material, but can be divided into the readily available organic matter, the slowly available, and the non-available pools. These three together make up the total organic matter measured in most soil tests. However, it is the readily available organic matter that is most important for promoting nutrient cycling, and for creating what are known as "water stable aggregates" in your soil, which help the soil take in water. Lab tests are known for this readily available pool, sometimes called the particulate organic matter, but are not commercially available yet. Also, a water stable aggregate test is sometimes performed in research labs, but is also not commercialized. A "quick test" can be done on your soil however, to see if your soil takes in water, and this will help you to know if your soil has water stable aggregates. Soil tests recommended in this handbook as "quick tests" include: pH, and the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These tests will help to quantify the fertility of your soil, and if the tests show extremely high levels of nitrogen or phosphorus, you will also know that run-off from your field may be contributing to water quality problems. Also included in this handbook is a generalized test for organic matter. None of the "quick tests" are as accurate as laboratory tests, so if you would like to know in more detail about any of these factors in your soil, we suggest submitting soil samples to a professional lab for verification, and for more accurate readings. Two soil quality tests are also included, to help you evaluate how well your soil is taking in water. A 6inch diameter section of pipe, when pounded into the ground, can serve as an infiltrometer for field readings. Water is poured into the infiltrometer, and a stop-watch is used to record the amount of time it takes for one inch of water to soak into the ground in a specific spot. The second test is also an infiltration reading, but will serve primarily as an indicator of whether there are water stable aggregates in the surface of your soil. A representative sample of soil (see sampling section for details) is collected, and a small scoop (either 1/8 cup or cup) of soil is placed on a filter paper in a suspended cone or funnel. Then a scoop (same size as first scoop) of distilled water is poured onto the surface, and the stop watch is used to record the time until the water disappears. With the same soil sample, a second scoop of water is added, and again the time is recorded. In soils with good structure, or water stable aggregates, you will see that the appearance of the surface of the soil doesn't change much, and the soil aggregates, which are about the size of large sand particles, stay in place, and the water drains quickly, usually about 30 seconds for the first scoop, and one or two minutes for the second scoop of water. A soil without water stable aggregates may take in the first scoop of water quickly, especially if the soil is dry. When the second scoop is added, you will see the surface of the soil seal over, as the aggregates break up, and clay particles wash down and plug the channels used for drainage. The surface of this soil will become smooth. The water will take five minutes or more to drain in soil without good structure, provided by water stable aggregates. The surface characteristics of the soil, current soil moisture condition, and sub-surface compaction all influence this reading, but both infiltration tests together give you an indication of what may happen during your next rainfall, and whether it will soak in, or run off.

The implications of these infiltration tests on water quality on your farm may not be obvious at first, but what it means is that when you get rainfall on fields with good infiltration, you will have less run-off, less soil erosion, and also fewer nutrients will run off your field into ponds, rivers and streams. It also means that you will have more water going into the rooting zone for your crops, and the soil will hold on to the nutrients that you need to have there for good crop growth.

How to sample the soils on your farm: The most important thing about collecting a soil sample is that it should be representative of the area that you are interested in, a field for example. It should also help you answer a specific question. One question might be: "is this soil deficient in any nutrients that would limit my crop growth?" Another question might be: "is this soil high enough in some nutrients, for example nitrogen, or phosphorus, from previous applications of fertilizers or manure, that I don't need to apply any more of this nutrient this year?" The answer to these questions will help you save money. First of all, you may save money if you find out that you don't need to apply a particular nutrient for this cropping year. If you rotate with legumes, you may find that the legume fixed, or left enough residual nitrogen for at least one, if not two or three cropping seasons. You may also make more profit if you find out that your nutrient levels are too low to grow an optimal crop, then you can plan for nutrient additions for that specific field. Another question, that will relate to water quality on your farm, is: "are there excess nutrients on this field, that may wash off into a nearby stream or other water source?" If nutrient levels are in excess, they may be gradually lowered by cropping, and removing some of the nutrients in the crop as grain, hay, or silage. You may also want to plan a buffer strip for this field, if it is near to, or drains into a stream, pond, or lake. Sampling to get representative data starts with looking at your field maps. Find a map with the field boundaries on it, and then compare it to the soil series map in your county soil survey book. These may be obtained from your local NRCS office, if it isn't already in your file. Also look at the topography of the field. Consider collecting a sample from all of the various sub-field areas that may be different. In the map in figure XX, this field has been divided into three distinct areas for sampling. There is an eroded hilltop, a slope with a different soil type, and a low-lying area, where some soil from erosion has accumulated over the years. This field is identified as field #14 in the illustration. Collect 10 subsamples, or soil cores from the hilltop, labeled as field 14A, and combine them in a bucket. Stir them together well, and then pour the entire sample, or a representative amount of soil into a bag, and label it as sample #14A. Then collect 10 subsamples or cores from the slope, combine them, and label them as sample 14B. The low area of the field will be similarly sampled, with the 10 subsamples combined, and labeled as 14C.

Figure 10. Example Field Map for Soil Sampling. (Note: the 10 subsample locations are illustrated for field area 14 A, as an example, but not for the other field sections).

The depth of sampling is also important. The highest nutrient content, and also organic matter content, will be on the surface, and will decrease as you go deeper into the profile. A good representative sample will be the top 12 inches. You may also sample only the top 8 or 10 inches. Even though crop roots may go much deeper, this surface, or "plow layer" sample is where the majority of the crop roots will be located, and where the crop will get most of its nutrients. The sample may be collected with a soil probe, which will collect a soil core, with equal amounts of soil from each depth in the core. Samples may also be collected with a spade or garden trowel. If these tools are used, just be sure to collect a vertical core with the same volume of soil from the throughout the depth of the profile, and from each location. If more is collected from the surface, your sample will give you an

erroneously high reading. If more is collected from the deeper sections, your sample will be in error on the low side. For research purposes, samples are often separated into two, three, or more layers and sampled simultaneously. For example, a common sampling scheme is to separate the top six inches (0-6), the layer from 6 to 12 inches, and a third layer from 12 to 24 inches. If you choose to sample in this way, you will gather even more information about where the nutrients are in the soil profile, and how much reserve is in the lower depths of your soil. In this handbook, we recommend sampling the 0-6 inch layer and also the 6-12 inch layer simultaneously, as shown in figure XX. If this is too laborious, either sample just the 0-6 inch layer, or else the 0-12 inch layer.

Figure 11. Illustration of Depth of Soil Sampling.

Once samples are gathered, they should be analyzed as soon as possible, especially if one is interested in the nitrogen content. If they can't be analyzed right away, either put them in the refrigerator, or spread them out on newspapers where they can quickly air dry. The phosphorus, potassium, and pH values will not change much, but nitrogen is constantly being transformed from one form to another, and microbial activity may tie up nitrogen, or in some cases, may release nitrogen from the organic matter. Either refrigeration or drying will slow or stop the microbial activity, so that you can get an

accurate picture of the nitrogen content in your soil at this particular point in time. Keep in mind that a month from now, the nitrogen content may be different in the field, so sample for nitrogen close to the time you are planting the crop, or at the time of maximum crop need for nitrogen, so that you will know whether more nitrogen is needed for the crop. It is also a good idea to sample ahead of opportunities to apply manures, compost, fertilizers or other nutrient sources. You may also want to plan ahead for future soil sampling, to see if the nutrient levels are going up or down over the next few cropping seasons. Crops will slowly deplete nutrients, and fertilizer and manure additions will raise the nutrient levels. Some fertilizers react with soil to lower the pH, so your pH levels may change over time as well, especially on the surface of the soil. To create a time series of soil samples, plan to collect samples at the same time of year each year. If your initial, or baseline samples were collected in the spring, try to collect subsequent samples in the spring also. Keep your soil series and soil sampling maps in a file, so you can sample the same representative areas each time as well. It won't do you much good to compare sample #14A from the first year, to a sample of the entire field #14 area the next year, so compare sample #14A in one year to sample #14A from later years. Sample to the same depth each time also. Keep your field history documents in the file with your soil sampling maps, so that if nutrient levels do change, you'll know why.

Soil Tests -- General Instructions This section will cover the details of how to run each of the recommended tests. To become proficient at testing and interpretation, please read the entire handbook, since important details about each test are contained in the "how to sample" and "how to interpret" sections, in addition to this section on "how to run" the tests. All of these tests may be run on fresh soil samples. However, the accuracy of the tests depends on getting a representative subsample, often using a very small scoop, to run each test. If the soil you have sampled is dry and crumbly, or dry and can be crushed to a fine dust, you may proceed without further processing. If the soil is moist, but still crumbly, you may also proceed, but use care to get an accurate and representative subsample in each scoop. If the soil is dry and cloddy, or very wet, you may need to do the following steps. First, air dry the sample until completely dry. Then crush the sample, using either a hammer on a hard surface, mortar and pestle, or other method. Finally, sieve the sample through a coarse screen, so that you have a representative, but finely ground sample to work with. Other general guidelines to note: 1) Keep all reagents, tablets, etc. out of reach of children. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, and wash hands before and after conducting tests.

2) Do not pour reagents back into the bottle once they have been removed. If excess is poured, discard it, don't return it to the bottle. Do not touch the tablets or powders with your hands, but dispense the tablet into the cap, and then into the test tube. 3) Used up reagents may be disposed of into a sanitary sewer or septic system. Do not discard on the ground, storm drain, lake, pond, river or stream. Pour down the sink and flush with water. 4) Tighten all caps immediately after use. Do not interchange caps. 5) Keep all test kit components at room temperature. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight or freezing temperatures. 6) After using the test tubes, rinse well with running water, and clean with the test tube brush provided. Drain and air-dry. Do not use detergents, as they may contain phosphorus, which could interfere with future tests. Reading the Color Charts Most of the tests in this section, and many of the tests in the water testing section rely upon matching a color from a reaction to a standardized color chart. If you know or suspect that your ability to distinguish colors is limited, work with a partner or friend on these tests. Other general tips for distinguishing colors are when matching a test color with a color chart, stand with the light source behind the chart and hold the test tube approximately one-half inch away from the color chart. If the color of a test reaction falls between two standard colors on a color chart, the midpoint between the two standard values is taken as the test result. For example, a pH test color reaction falling between the standard colors for pH 4.0 and 5.0 represents a test result of 4.5. In the other tests, color reactions may either match, fall between, or fall above or below the three standard colors representing "low," "medium," and "high." Therefore, eight different test results are possible; 1) none, 2) very low, 3) low, 4) medium low, 5) medium, 6) medium high, 7) high, and 8) very high.

Soil pH Test: Purpose: to determine if the soil is acidic or basic. The pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration expressed in logarithmic terms. The pH values decrease as the hydrogen ion concentration increases and range from 0 to 14. Values below 7.0 are acidic, values above 7.0 are alkaline, and 7.0 is neutral. For each unit change in pH there is a 10-fold change in acidity or alkalinity (i.e. pH 6.0 is ten times more acidic than pH 7.0, and pH 5.0 is a hundred time more acidic than 7.0). Tools: the following procedure used the LaMotte garden soil test kid model EM, Code 5934. Other methods of measuring pH are also possible. Some test kits are more accurate than others. Before using a particular "quick test "method, compare it to laboratory results. The tests recommended in this handbook have all been compared to KSU soil test laboratory results, and have been deemed satisfactory for initial screening purposes.

Procedure: 1) Fill the test tube in the LaMotte kit to line 4 with pH Indicator solution. Squeeze the bottle gently to control the amount dispensed. 2) Use the 0.5 g spoon to add 3 measures of soil sample. 3) Cap and shake gently for one minute. 4) Allow tube to stand for 10 minutes to let soil settle. 5) Match color reaction with the pH color chart. Record the result as pH on the data sheet. Interpretation: Soil pH is generally considered adequate if it is between 6 and 7. On some Kansas soils, the natural pH is 7 or even 8, and good crops are grown on these soils. A soil with a pH higher than 8 merits further testing, however, to see if other factors may limit crop growth (for example salt), and whether soil amendments or special adapted crops should be grown. The primary concern with pH is if it drops too low, through the use of fertilizers or other products. The soil pH can be raised through the addition of lime, and lowered (for specialty crops like blueberries) with sulfur. See KSU bulletins on these topics for more information. For the pH values on your data sheet, rate your soils according to the scoring table below. This is similar to the scoring system used in the River Friendly Farms notebook. A score-card sheet may be found in Appendix C along with blank data sheets. Soil pH Rating 4 Soil pH is between 6.5 and 6.8. 3 Soil pH is between 6 and 7.2. 2 Soil pH is between 5.8 and 8.0.

Soil pH is lo higher than 8

Phosphorus Test Purpose: Phosphorus plays an important role in plant health and growth; it encourages root development, increases the ratio of grain to straw, and increases resistance to disease, among other things. Some soil phosphorus is in a form available to plants, but much of it is tied up in the organic matter pool, or bound tightly to mineral particles. The soil pH has a large influence on phosphorus availability and solubility. Some prairie soils are quite low in available phosphorus, and more may need to be added for adequate crop growth. However, it can be over-applied in the form of fertilizers, manures, and other forms. Excess phosphorus that is washed into waterways can lead to overgrowth of algae and other microorganisms, depleting

oxygen, which results in eutrophication, and fish death. Knowing the level of phosphorus in farmland soil can be very important. This soil test for phosphorus estimates the amount that is available to plants during the upcoming growing season. Commercial soil test labs can report results as available phosphorus, and can also determine the total amount of phosphorus in the soil, including that bound up in the organic matter pool for release later. Tools: the following procedure used the LaMotte garden soil test kit model EM, Code 5934. Other methods of measuring soil phosphorus are also possible. Some test kits are more accurate than others. Before using a particular "quick test "method, compare it to laboratory results. The tests recommended in this handbook have all been compared to KSU soil test laboratory results, and have been deemed satisfactory for initial screening purposes. Procedure: 1) Fill the test tube to line 6 with the Phosphorus Extracting Solution*. 2) Use the 0.5 g spoon to add three measures of soil sample. 3) Cap and gently shake for one minute. 4) Remove cap. Allow to stand and soil to settle until liquid above the soil is clear. 5) Use the pipet (dropper with the red bulb) to transfer the clear liquid to a second clean test tube. To avoid agitation of soil squeeze the bulb of the pipet before inserting tip into liquid. Release bulb slowly to draw clear liquid into the dropper. Do not pull up any soil. Fill this second, clean test tube to line 3 with the clarified solution. 6) Add six drops of the Phosphorus Indicator Reagent* to soil extract in the second tube. 7) Cap and shake to mix the contents. 8) Add one phosphorus test tablet. 9) Cap and shake vigorously until the tablet is dissolved. A blue color will develop. Match the test color with the phosphorus color chart. Record this phosphorus level on your data sheet. Interpretation - See guidelines at the end of the Nitrogen section, on page xx.

Potassium Test Purpose: Potassium (K) enhances disease resistance in plants by strengthening stalks and stems, contributes to a thicker cuticle (leaf surface layer) which guards against disease and water loss, controls the turgor pressure within plants to prevent wilting,

and enhances fruit size, flavor, texture and development. Soil potassium is found in three forms; trapped between clay layers (relatively unavailable), adsorbed on the surface of soil colloids (exchangeable), and in the soil solution (available). Available potassium supply for maximum crop production depends on the type of clay mineral in the soil parent material (some minerals have more potassium than others) and its resistance to weathering actions. Potassium is generally not considered a pollutant in Kansas surface water, and is naturally high in most Kansas soils. There may be some conditions where low K levels limit crop growth, and extremely excessive levels of K in soil can lmit plant uptake of other nutrients like magnesium and calcium. One should monitor the K levels on their farm, to make sure that levels are adequate for crop growth, but not excessive. Tools: the following procedure used the LaMotte garden soil test kit model EM, Code 5934. Other methods of measuring soil potassium are also possible. Some test kits are more accurate than others. Before using a particular "quick test "method, compare it to laboratory results. The tests recommended in this handbook have all been compared to KSU soil test laboratory results, and have been deemed satisfactory for initial screening purposes. Note: the LaMotte soil test kit correctly identified very low and very high potassium level in soils, but did not distinguish between medium and high (intermediate test) soils. Procedure: Fill test tube to line 7 with Potassium Extracting Solution. Use 0.5 g spoon to add four measures of soil sample to test tube. Cap and shake vigorously for one minute. Remove cap and allow soil to settle. Use a clean pipet (dropper with the red bulb) to transfer the clear liquid to another clean test tube. Be careful not to pull up any soil into the dropper tube. Fill a second test tube to line 5 with the liquid. Note that if additional extract is needed to fill the tube to line 5, start with another tube and repeat steps 1-4. Add one potassium indicator tablet to the soil extract in the second tube. Cap and shake to dissolve the tablet. A purplish color will appear. Add potassium test solution, two drops at a time. Keep a running count of the drops used. Swirl the test tube after each addition to mix the contents. Stop adding drops when the color changes from purplish to blue. Record the total number of drops added. Use the potassium end point color chart as a guide in reading this color change. Read the test result from this table:

Number of Drops Added

Potassium Level in Soil

0-8 10 12 14 16 18 20 or more

Very High High Medium High Medium Medium Low Low Very Low

Interpretation - See guidelines at the end of the Nitrogen section, on page xx.

Nitrogen Test: Purpose: Nitrogen (N) is important for plant growth and development, and of the macronutrients, is often the one that is most limiting. Soil nitrate (NO3) and ammonium (NH4) are both forms of inorganic nitrogen that are readily available for use by plants. They are formed from the mineralization (by microorganisms) of organic forms of N such as soil organic matter, crop residue, and manures. Soluble fertilizers also provide nitrate and ammonium in forms that can be used by plants. Nitrogen in the soluble forms is mobile in the soil, and nitrate can be leached below the root zone of the crop. Both forms can be transported off site in runoff due to rain or irrigation, which contributes to eutrophication of surface waters due to excess growth of algeae and microorganisms. Knowing the content of plant available nitrogen is important to assure that the crop has enough for adequate growth, but excess nitrogen is not running off the field. Tools: the following procedure used the LaMotte garden soil test kit model EM, Code 5934. Other methods of measuring nitrogen are also possible. Some test kits are more accurate than others. Before using a particular "quick test "method, compare it to laboratory results. The tests recommended in this handbook have all been compared to KSU soil test laboratory results, and have been deemed satisfactory for initial screening purposes.

Procedure: Fill a test tube to line 7 with Nitrogen Extracting Solution. Use the 0.5 g spoon to add two measures of soil sample. Cap and gently shake for one minute. Remove cap and allow soil to settle. Use a clean pipet (dropper with the red bulb) to transfer the clear liquid to a second clean test tube. To avoid agitation of soil squeeze the bulb of the pipet before inserting the tip into the liquid. Release the bulb slowly to draw clear liquid into the pipet. Do not pull up any soil. Fill a second tube to line 3 with liquid. Use the 0.25 (smaller) spoon to add two measures of nitrogen indicator powder to the soil extract in the second tube. Cap and gently shake to mix. Wait 5 minutes for the pink color to develop above the powder. 8) Match the test color with the nitrogen color chart. Record as nitrogen (N) on the data sheet. Interpretation - LaMotte Nutrient Tests (N, P and K): The interpretive guides provided with the kits give results as high, medium or low. Other values are possible, such as zero, trace, medium high, etc. Most commercial soil test labs provide results in units such as lb/a or ppm. Use the following table to convert the LaMotte colormetric values of low, medium, and high to approximate ranges in ppm (parts per million). Then use ppm values to determine if additional nutrition is required for the crop you are growing. Nitrogen LaMotte Level: Phosphorus Nutrient level range in ppm


Low Medium High

0-15 15-30 30+

0-25 25-50 50+

0-60 60-100 100+

Generally speaking, if a soil falls in the low range for a nutrient, crops will be deficient, and can be improved either in quantity or quality by the supplementation of the deficient nutrient. The medium range is usually an adequate level for most crops. The high range is also adequate for crop growth and yield, and may be necessary for heavy feeding crops such as corn. However, for other crops this could be excessive and could lead to nutrient pollution in surface water run-off. KSU Extension guidelines vary slightly from the LaMotte table above, with the Horticultural recommendations slanted slightly higher than the table values listed above (need a higher level of each to be in the "medium" and "high" categories). The Agronomy, or field crops recommendations on the other hand, are consistently lower than the LaMotte guidelines. Thus, this table may be used with the caveat to consult KSU publications and expertise for the specific crops you are growin,. However, this table combined with the LaMotte tests can be used to determine if the nutrient levels are about right, or are too high or too low. Use the following table to score your phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium test results. A score of 4 is the best rating, 3 is good, 2 is fair, and 1 is poor. Soil Phosphorus, Potassium and Nitrogen Rating 4 Nutrient levels are in the "medium" range. 3 Nutrient levels slightly above or below "medium." 2 Nutrient in question is "low" or "medium low," and may be deficient.

Nutrient leve high" or high contributing pollution, ev growth is ad

Field Method to Estimate Soil Organic Matter Level Purpose: To determine if the organic matter levels in soil are high, medium or low. Organic matter is important in the soil to improve soil structure, nutrient holding capacity, water holding capacity, and infiltration. Frequent tillage and removal of crop material lowers soil organic matter levels. Fertility amendments such as animal manure, compost, and green manure cover crops increase the organic matter level. Tools: 0.5 g scoop from the LaMotte soil testing kit

Test tubes and caps from the LaMotte (or other) soil testing kit Filter papers, funnel, and jar Small glass vials or tubes Set of standard organic matter extraction solutions (or use photograph on page xx). Extracting solution. For this you will need a scale accurate to 0.1 gram, three 1 liter glass containers with screw-on caps, graduated cylinder accurate to 1 ml, dry (granules or crystals) of sodium hydroxide and EDTA disodium salt. These can be obtained from your local chemistry dept. or supply center, or through one of the catalogs listed in Appendix A.

To mix the extraction solution, weigh out and mix 10 g of sodium hydroxide (NaOH 0.25 M) with one liter of water. Please either wear plastic gloves and eye protection, or use extreme caution when mixing these solutions. Sodium hydroxide is a strong base which could cause minor burns on skin. Let stand until mixture is cool, and the crystals have dissolved. This will take a few hours. In a second one liter bottle mix 18.6 grams of EDTA disodium salt (Na2EDTA 0.05 M) with one liter of water. Mix well, and allow several hours to dissolve. In the third 1 liter bottle, mix 500 ml of the sodium hydroxide solution with 500 ml of the EDTA solution. This is the extraction solution to used in the following procedure.

Procedure: (Reference: R.A. Bowman, USDA-ARS, Akron, CO, Conservation Tillage Fact Sheet #5-97) This method is more qualitative than quantitative, and should mainly be used to establish which fields may be in the "adequate" range, and which may need some serious soil building efforts. The texture of the soil (sandy, clay, etc) may affect the results of this test also, and lead to either an under- or overestimation of organic matter content. If one would like to document soil building over time, repeated (annual or every 2 years) soil samples should be analyzed by a commercial soil test lab. Use the 0.5 g scoop from the Lamotte kit and put 1 level scoop of soil into the plastic containers with lids. Use the test tubes from the Lamotte kit, and measure 20 ml of organic matter extracting solution into the plastic container with the soil. Each mark on the tube is 1 ml. Please either wear plastic gloves and eye protection, or use

extreme caution when measuring this solution. The solution contains sodium hydroxide, a strong base, which could cause minor burns on skin. Cap the container, and shake for about 30 seconds. Hold over a sink in case the cap leaks or comes off. Shake vigorously, but use caution. Fold two filter papers to fit into a funnel. Put one filter paper inside of the other one. A very clean solution is needed for this test, and we have found from experience that using only one filter paper leaves too much soil in suspension. Pour the liquid/soil suspension into the funnel with the two filter papers. Put a jar or other container under the funnel to catch the liquid. Because the soil is dispersed, it will take 30 to 60 minutes for the liquid to come through. Continue to be careful about touching the solution, and the sodium hydroxide is still capable of burning the skin, even after the soil has been extracted. After 10 ml of liquid or so is through the filter papers (it doesnt have to all have gone through), pour the liquid into one of the small glass vials. It will either be clear, or some shade of brown, but should not have soil floating in it. The color is due to organic matter that has been extracted by the strong ETDA/Sodium Hydroxide solution. Hold the vial of liquid up to a light or bright window, and compare the color to the photograph in figure on page 37. Rate your organic matter as low, medium, or high. Notes on interpretation: Ideally, for each soil type, a set of standard solutions for soils with known organic matter content would be developed. A useful range would be 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5% organic matter, and those sample vials used for comparison for field tests. This is not practical for most farms, and so a generalized guide is being used. Also, we have found that at the upper end of the organic matter scale, this test does not distinguish between soil that is 3% organic matter, and compost amended samples that are 5%, 10%, or even higher. Also, an occasional sample will not follow the pattern, so once an initial assessment is conducted, we recommend further testing using commercial labs. Figure 12. Soil Organic Matter Comparison.

Interpretation of the Soil Organic Matter Test: The soil organic matter test is only an approximation, but can still be used to give a rating. Soil Organic Matter Rating 4 The soil organic matter is apparently "high" according to Figure 12. 3 The soil organic matter content appears to be "medium high." 2 The soil organic matter is "medium."

The soil orga "low."

Soil Texture Test Purpose: Soil texture refers to the relative proportion of mineral particles of various sizes (soil fractions): sand, slit, and clay expressed as a percentage. The basis of the test is the particle size and its mass, as related to settling time when dispersed in solution. Size classes according to their particle diameter are listed in the table below:

Size Class

Particle Diameter (mm)

Very coarse sand Coarse sand Medium sand Fine sand Very fine sand Silt Clay

2.0-1.0 1.0-0.5 0.5-0.25 0.25-0.10 0.10-0.05 0.05-0.002 Less than 0.002

Soil fractions give specific characteristics to the soil. Clay improves the nutrient holding capacity, increases water retention, soil stability, but is sometimes difficult to till. Soils high in sand characteristically have good drainage, aeration, and are relatively easy to till. Soils high in silt will be intermediate. The soil texture classes are determined by plotting the percentage of sand, silt, and clay on the texture triangle (see Figure 13). Tools: About 10 ml of soil will be required for this test; dried and sieved is best. For this procedure, a 50 ml plexi-glass vial is used, available from LaMotte (Code 0670 $6.40), with a mark at the 10 ml and 40 ml levels. LaMotte texture dispersing reagent is also used (Code 5644WTH $5.90 for 60 ml). A cap for the plexi-glass tube, and a measuring ruler marked in mm are also needed. Procedure: This test is not as precise as the laboratory hydrometer method, but it requires fewer tools, and is relatively fast. It will help you know if you have an extremely sandy soil, clayey soil, or something in between. Fill the soil separation tube up to the 10 ml line with soil. Gently tap the tube after each portion is added. Dilute the sample by adding water up to the 40 ml line. Add 10 drops of texture dispersing reagent. Hold the bottle vertically when adding the drops. Cap the tube and shake for 2 minutes.

Allow the tube to stand for exactly 30 seconds. Measure the height of the soil particles that have settled at this time. This is the sand portion. Record this value. Allow the tube to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes. Use the ruler to measure the height of the particles that have settled and record the value. Subtract the first (30 second) reading. This difference is the portion of soil that is silt. Now let the tube of soil stand for at least 24 hours. At the 24-hour point, take another reading. Subtract the height at the 30 minute reading. This difference is the clay portion of the soil. If the water is still very cloudy, take another reading after it has completely cleared. Compare it to the 24-hour reading. If the level has risen, subtract the 30-minute reading from this value, and use this for the clay reading. In some cases, we have found that the soil continues to settle, and the level actually goes down. If this happens, simply use the 24 hour reading, or assume a zero value for clay. Now, put the three height readings in the form of percentages. For example;

Height in millimeters after:

Corresponds to fraction of:

Example - total height in ml:

Difference in height, or portion:

Portion percen

30 seconds


9 mL

9 mL

9/16 =

30 minutes


13 mL

4 mL

4/16 =

24+ hours


16 mL

3 mL

3/16 =

total = 16 mL

9) Using the soil texture triangle in Figure xx, find the spot on the diagram that corresponds to the fractions of sand, silt and clay in your soil test. Write down the name of your soil texture. In the example, the soil texture as determined by the triangle for a soil with 56% sand, 25% silt and 19% clay is a sandy clay loam. On the diagram, the asterisk marks this spot, just below the middle of the word "loam," in the

sandy clay loam section. You will now use this soil texture classification when estimating water, lime, and fertility requirements of your soil. Figure 13. Soil Texture Triangle

Interpretation of Soil Texture: The soil texture test is included simply to help provide background information. It would be a good idea to consult your county NRCS guide to soil series, and learn more about the soil types on your farm. The soils guide will describe your soils surface and subsurface characteristics, as well as the texture of the soil at various layers. Soil Texture Rating 4 3 2

I have determined the soil texture on fields in my farm, and consulted the NRCS soil series guide.



I dont have soil texture i never seen th series guide.

Field Infiltration Test: Purpose: To determine how field management practices have affected the rate at which rainfall will soak into the soil. Three factors will affect surface infiltration rate (if soil is the same texture, slope, time of year, etc.) 1) presence of a compacted layer, 2) bulk density, or general level of compactness, and 3) surface porosity, which is affected by tillage, the presence of crop residue, earthworms, root and other biological activity, and of most interest, water stable aggregates, formed in healthy soils by the action of beneficial fungi. Tools: Assemble these and take to the field with you. a sturdy metal ring, 6 inch diameter irrigation pipe, cut into a 5 inch section (length), with one edge sharpened on a grinder. 2 inch x 4 inch board, about 2 feet long, placed on the ring before pounding small sledge hammer small tape measure or ruler to measure that the ring is 2 inches out of the ground pint sized plastic container with a line drawn on the outside for 1 7/8 cup level a couple of gallon jugs to carry water to the field (will need about 1 pint per test, or 8 tests per gallon of water) kitchen grade thin plastic sheet or food wrap stopwatch or watch or clock with a second hand Procedure: Find five representative spots in the field to test. Avoid field edges, traffic ways, tire tracks, large cracks in the ground, etc. Mark these five spots with a small flag, stick, or other temporary marker. Note on your field map approximately where these 5 spots are. Place a ring onto the soil at spot #1, taking care to remove residue from the exact spot that the metal ring touches the ground, so that the residue does not

make it harder to pound in smoothly. In general though, leave residue undisturbed as much as possible both inside and outside the ring. Put the 2 inch x 4 inch board across the ring, while holding the board steady with one hand, pound gently on the center of the board with the small sledge hammer, forcing the ring slowly into the ground. Pound the ring in 3 inches (should stick out of the ground 2 inches). Try to keep the ring level, and avoid any sideways movement of the ring that would create a water channel. (see Figure 14). Line the inside of the ring with a medium sized square sheet of plastic. Slowly pour the 1 7/8 cup of water onto the plastic sheet. It should all stay there, and not leak over the sides. If you are doing the timing, set your stopwatch to zero, or look at your watch to determine a zero point. This test is easier if there are two people, and one is watching the time, and the other is watching the water. Gently pull the sheet of plastic out from underneath the water. This should take about one or two seconds to accomplish. Dont jerk the sheet, since water may spill, but dont take too long either. As the water hits the soil, start the stop-watch. Stop the stopwatch when the freestanding water disappears, but the soil has some glisten. Record this number on your data sheet. This is the amount of time that it would take for one inch of rainfall to soak into your soil if it fell very quickly. This test may take anywhere from a few seconds, to several hours to complete. If there is a crack in the soil, and only one of the five spots you sample goes quickly, you might disregard that data point, and repeat in another spot. In my experience, generally four of the five rings are pretty close, and one ring might either be much quicker, or much slower. Similarly, if four of the rings take 20 to 30 minutes, and one takes five hours, you may also disregard this data point. It was probably due to a localized, compacted layer. However, you may want to go back and see how extensive the compaction is, how deep it is, and whether there are any management practices that can alleviate the compaction. With the ring in the same spot, put the plastic back in, and repeat steps 4 and 5. This will be the time required for a second inch of water to soak in. The second inch often takes longer than the first one, but is an even better indicator of soil quality, since the rate at which the first inch soaks in is partly due to how dry the soil was when you started. The second inch is a better indicator of porosity, and presence of water stable aggregates, which increase the porosity, and the infiltration rate of soil.

Figure 14. Illustration of an Infiltrometer.

Interpretation of Field Infiltration Rate: Basically, the faster water soaks in the better, but there are no absolutes. Here are some general guidelines, based on several field seasons of experience with this test. Field Infiltration Rating Time for: 1st inch of water 4 0-30 seconds. 3 30 seconds to 5 minutes. 3-10 minutes. 2 5 - 20 minutes.

20 minu

2nd inch of water

0-3 minutes.

10-60 minutes.

60 minu

Lab Infiltration Test:

Purpose: To evaluate soil porosity due to soil texture and the presence of water stable aggregates. Water stable aggregates form in soil as a result of biological processes. The smallest aggregates (not much larger than dust particles) are formed as clay clumps around the sticky microbial debris, and larger (2 mm - the size of large grains of sand, or bread crumbs) aggregates form when fungal hyphae and plant roots "knit" or tie the smaller clumps together. These aggregates are very beneficial, and allow water to soak in, and also help hold onto water longer than non-aggregated, low organic matter soils. Tools: Assemble these before starting. soil samples from the field; the soil should be moist, not too dry or too wet/muddy cup measuring scoop (1/8 cup) distilled water filter paper (in kit, or coffee filter would work) small funnel jar to set the funnel on stopwatch, or clock or watch with second hand Procedure: Put funnel on top or jar or container that is sturdy and will keep the funnel level. Place a folded filter paper inside the funnel. Place 1/8 cup level scoop of either fresh or air-dry soil in the filter paper. Do not pack, but level it with a slight tap or by jiggling the funnel. Gently pour 1/8 cup of distilled water onto the surface of the soil, and start the stopwatch. Once the water has disappeared beneath the surface, stop the stopwatch and record the time. Repeat steps 3 and 4 with a second cup of water, but with the same soil. You will have two times written on the data sheet - time 1, and time 2 (in minutes:seconds). Convert the seconds to fractions of minutes (for example, 30 seconds = 0.5 minutes).

Figure 15. Lab Infiltration Test with Funnel.

Interpretation of Lab Infiltration Rate: Like the field infiltration test, the following numbers are based simply on experience. This is a relatively new test, so there is little to no published literature. However, these guidelines should help you in the evaluation of the quality of your soil. Rating for Lab Infiltration Rate Time for: 1st scoop of water 2nd scoop of water 4 0-30 seconds. 3 30 seconds to 2 minutes. 3-10 minutes. 2 2-10 minutes.

10 minu

0-3 minutes.

10-20 minutes.

20 minu

Note: a "scoop" 1/8 cup size was used for development of these tests and guidelines. A larger scoop (1/4 cup or larger) would also work, as long as equal parts of soil and water were used.

References and Resources

G.G. Andrews, and L. Townsend, 2001. Stream-A-Syst. EM 8761. Oregon State University, Corvalis. Bowman, R.A., 1997. Field Methods to Estimate Soil Organic Matter. Conservation Tillage Fact Sheet #5-97. Published by USDA/ARS and USDA-NRCS. Bradshaw, M.H. and G.M. Powell. 2003. Organic Chemicals and Radionuclides in Drinking Water. MF-1142. K-State Research and Extension. Bradshaw, M.H. and G.M. Powell. 2000. Understanding Your Water Test Report. MF-912. K-State Research and Extension. Campbell, G. and S. Wildberger. 1992. The Monitor's Handbook. LaMotte Company, Chestertown, MD. Chemetrics Phosphorus Test Manual - www.chemetrics.com Janke, R.R. and D. Nagengast. 2002. River Friendly Farms Environmental Assessment Tool. S-138. K-State Research and Extension. Janke, R.R. and R. Rodriguez. 2002. KDHE Final Report. Part II. Water Quality Test Kit Evaluation. KDHE Report - Kansas Unified Watershed Assessment FFY 1999. www.kdhe.state.ks.us/watershed. LaMotte Company - Test Kit Manuals (Texture, Soil, Turbidity, etc.) www. lamotte.com. Newton, B., C. Pringle, and R. Bjorkland. 1998. Stream Visual Assessment Protocol. National Water and Climate Center Technical Note 99-1. USDA/NRCS. Penner, K.P. 2001. Food-A-Syst, A Food Safety Risk Management Guide for the Producer. K-State Research and Extension. Powell, G.M., J.M. Willingham, and M.H. Bradshaw. 2003. Testing to Help Ensure Safe Drinking Water. MF 951 (revised). K-State Research and Extension. Powell, G.M., M.H. Bradshaw, and B. Dallemand. 1999. Recommended Water Tests for Private Wells. MF-871. K-State Research and Extension. Powell, G.M., and R.D. Black. 1998. Shock Chlorination for Private Water Systems. MF 911. K-State Research and Extension.

Powell, G.M, B.L. Dallemand, and J.M. Willingham. 2000. Taking a Water Sample. MF-963. K-State Research and Extension. Powell, G.M, D. Rogers, and J.M. Willingham. 1999. Private Well Maintenance and Protection. MF-2396. K-State Research and Extension. Renn, C.E. 1970. Investigating Water Problems - A Water Analysis Manual. LaMotte Company, Chestertown, MD. Rodriguez, R. and R.R.Janke, 2002. KDHE Final Report, Part I. Soil Quality Test Kit Evaluation. Rogers, D, G.M. Powell, and B.L. Dallemand. 19xx. Private Wells - Safe Location and Construction. MF 970. K-State Research and Extension.. Spokes, Neil and Julie Bradley. 1991. Performance testing of selected test kits for analysis of water samples. Monitoring Water in the 1990s. Hall/ Glysson, Eds.

Appendix A: Source of kits, suppliers, and cost


Lamotte kits - pH N P K

60 30 40 30



Cone, filter paper, & stop watch for infiltration test


KSU or Ward's (filter paper $10.0 $1.50 for funnels, watch $10.00)

Metal ring for field infiltration test

KSU (can find one at home)

Soil texture test



test tube brush



Organic matter test



KSU (reagants)

Tool box


Local Hardware Store

Total cost


You Provide: Item Number Cost Used for:

Wooden 2 x 4, about 1-2 long Long knife or blade for cleaning the infiltrometer Jars or glasses for funnels to sit on for funnel infiltration test pint plastic bottle plastic film or handiwrap

1 1

0 0

for pounding in infiltrometer

use an old one from the kitche


from the kitchen is fine

for filling infiltrometer for infiltrometer

Item Number Cost Source (cost per test)

pH strips Turbidity tube Armored, non-mercury thermometer

50 1 1

$ 9.00 $ 23.70 $ 18.75

Hach ($ 0.18) LaMotte (n.a.) LaMotte (n.a.)

Nitrate/nitrite test strips Ammonia test strips Phosphorus test

50 50 60

$ 30.00 $ 30.00 $ 64.00

Hach ($ 0.60) Hach ($ 0.60) Chemets ($ 1.07)

Petri-film for total coliform and E. coli, pipets

50 50

$ 70.00 $ 7.00 6.75 $ 8.60

3M ($1.40) Ward's ($ 0.14) 3M ($ 1.35) Silver Lake ($ 4.30)

Quick swabs for food safety test Atrazine water test

5 2

Water scoop Sample containers

1 25

24.00 0

Forestry Supply KSU

Total Cost

$ 291.80

Comparison with Commercial Laboratories Prices

Test Number in kit and kit cost KSU Soil Test Lab Servi-Tech

cost per test $

total $

cost per test $







nitrate + ammonia















field infiltration



cone infiltration



soil texture




soil organic matter






$ 115.50

$ 435.00


Test Number in kit and kit cost KSU Soil/Water Test Lab M.D. Labs

cost per test $

total $

cost per test $







Total Suspended Solids /Turbidity








Nitrate Nitrite Ammonia

50 50 50

1.00 N.A. 1.00


15.00 15.00








Fecal Coliform


N.A. ($16.50 at Servi-Tech)



Food safety




N.A. ($75.00 at Petersons)




$ 291.80

$ 1595.00



(catalog item numbers given in italics) 3M Microbiology Products 3M Center, Building 275-5W-05 St. Paul, MN 55144-1000 1-800-328-1671 www:3M.com/microbiology Email: microbiology@3M.com These are the plates for the coliform and E. coli bacteria: 6484 50 EC plates 6414 500 EC plates 6432 50 quick swabs (for surfaces) 6433 250 quick swabs (for surfaces) CHEMetrics, Inc. Route 28 Calverton, VA 20138-9850

1-800-356-3072 www.chemetrics.com Email: prodinfo@chemetrics.com K-8510 Ortho P kit R-8510 Ortho P refill A-8500 refill solution Hach Company P.O. Box 389 Loveland, CO 80539-0389 1-800-227-4224 www.hach.com Email: orders@hach.com 27553-25 ammonia test strips 27454-25 nitrate/nitrite test strips 27456-50 pH test strips 713-749 500 ml bottles 713-765 1000 ml bottles LaMotte Company P.O. Box 329 802 Washington Ave. Chestertown, MD 21620 1-800-344-3100 www.lamotte.com 5887 turbidity tube 1066 armored non-mercury thermometer

5934 EM for 30/60 soil tests (pH, N,P,K) 5679 EL for 15/30 soil tests (pH, N,P,K) Silver Lake P.O. Box 686 Monrovia, CA 91017 1-888-438-1942 www.silverlakeresearch.com WS-289 Atrazine test kit Ward's P.O. Box 92912 Rochester, NY 14692-9012 1-800-962-2660 www.wardsci.com 21V 0211 water scoop w/ 3 handle 21V 0212 water scoop w/6' handle 18W-274 plastic bottles 18W 2972 sterile pipets (500)

Appendix B: Commercial soil and water testing labs Soil Test Labs
Kansas State University has a service lab for soil, plant material and water nutrient analysis. Sample delivery may be arranged through your local county Extension office or mailed or delivered directly. Samples may also be mailed to the other commercial labs on this list. Some labs may want the soil or plant samples to be air dried before sending, so call to find out prices, and how to send the sample. KSU Soil Testing Laboratory

2308 Throckmorton Hall Manhattan, KS 66506 785-532-7897 garygri@bear.agron.ksu.edu (Soil, plant tissue, water, including irrigation water) SDK Laboratories (formerly Petersons) Hutchinson, KS 620-665-5661 (Soils, grain, forages, organo-phosphate screen, PCBs (water only) Servi-Tech Hastings, NE and Dodge City KS 620-227-7123 (Soils, feed, plant tissue, lime, water, sludge, manure, compost nematodes) Olsens Agricultural Laboratory, Inc. McCook, NE 308-345-3670 (Soil, plant tissue, water, feed, fertilizer, manure, sludge, compost) Midwest Laboratories, Inc. Omaha, NE 402-334-7779 (Soil, plant tissue, seed, fertilizer, manure, feed, water, pesticides) Harris Agronomic Services Lincoln, NE 402-476-2811 (Soil, plant, water, pesticide residues) A&L Heartland Laboratories, Inc. Atlantic, IA 712-243-6933 (Soils, plant tissue, manure, feed, pesticides, water, metals, microbiology)