The Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station (MAFES) Analytical Laboratory and Maine Soil Testing Service analyzes soil, plant tissue, compost, manure, irrigation water, wood ash, fertilizers, organic residuals and other materials for nutrient content, organic matter, lead and other trace elements. We provide analytical services at reasonable prices to the public and to researchers.
Winter 2023 – 2024
Thanks to all our customers for your loyalty this past year. We have run nearly 20,000 field and garden soil samples in 2023. We have been able to keep current with our most time-sensitive testing. However, analysis on some of our specialty samples will last well into the winter.
Growing seasons are becoming more erratic each year. This past year was one of the wettest on record, which greatly impaired plant growth and productivity. We saw constant cases of nitrogen deficiency all season long, due to heavy rainfall. Splitting the nitrogen application, half at planting and the remainder 3 to 4 weeks later, can help prevent excess losses of nitrogen and maintain adequate fertility through the season.
Building and maintaining good soil health and fertility are key to creating resilient and productive soils and healthy plants, better able to tolerate extremes in growing conditions. A quick check on soil health for gardens and grounds is provided by our Soil Biology add-on test. We can also provide a full Soil Health/Soil Quality Package for commercial growers, which now meets NRCS specifications (see price list).
If you are sampling for a High Tunnel Test over the winter or early spring, be sure to sample the entire soil profile from the surface down to 6 or 8 inches to get an overall average for the entire depth. Nutrient salts tend to accumulate in the surface 2 inches of tunnel soils, even during the winter.
When spring sampling after frost is out of the ground, the Standard Soil Test is your best testing option. In spring, soil nitrate levels are at a low ebb, until the soil warms and normal biological activity and nutrient cycling resumes. The Comprehensive Soil Test, which includes a direct measurement of soil nitrogen, is most useful and appropriate after Memorial Day.
Our lab also provides testing services for Soil Metals Screening, irrigation water quality, compost, manure, and plant foliar nutrient content.
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The laboratory is located in Deering Hall on the University of Maine campus. (driving directions). Samples may be mailed to us or dropped off at room 25. We are available Monday through Friday between 8 and 5.
Your data is confidential as described in the Laboratory’s Privacy and Delineation of Responsibility Policy. We use standardized methodology and, as part of our data Quality Assurance program, we participate in the North American Proficiency Testing (NAPT) program.