SDSU Extension Invites Producers to Bring Forage and Water for Testing at 2017 Dakotafest |

SDSU Extension Invites Producers to Bring Forage and Water for Testing at 2017 Dakotafest

SDSU Extension will be offering on-site nitrate and water testing in booth #600 during Dakotafest 2017 held Aug. 15-17 in Mitchell at the Schlaffman Farm (2300 Spruce Street, Mitchell, SD 57301).

“Due to the ongoing drought across the state, checking the quality and safety of forages and water before allowing livestock to consume them is an essential step to prevent health or general productivity issues in the cowherd,” said Taylor Grussing, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist.

Drought mitigation services will be available each day of Dakotafest from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in booth #600.

Grussing, along with Robin Salverson, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist will be on site to conduct nitrate testing on forages, as well as test livestock water for total dissolved salts.

Nitrate Testing

A Nitrate Quick Test will be available to be performed on standing forages such as corn, millet, sudangrass and sorghum.

Exceptions include: baled forages, such as, grass and alfalfa. These forages should be sampled via bale core method and sent directly to a lab for best results.

“Nitrates accumulate in the lower portion of the plant and continue to increase in the upper portions of the plant as drought conditions worsen,” Grussing explained.

To test standing forages for nitrates, producers are encouraged to bring a representative sample of the field (10 to 15 samples from multiple locations). Cut the sample at ground level, making sure the lowest node is available.

The Nitrate Quick Test can be accomplished in a matter of minutes to establish if nitrates are present or not present in the plant.

Water Testing

Livestock water from dugouts, wells, artesian water and other water sources can also be brought in for quality testing (Booth #600).

A quick test will be performed with an electro-conductivity (EC) meter to provide an estimate of total dissolved salts in the sample.

Water samples can be taken to booth #600 in a clean plastic or glass container such as water or pop bottles or pint canning jars.

Based on the EC meter reading, recommendations will be made suggesting water safety for livestock consumption.


Based on individual results, SDSU Extension Specialists will be on hand to consult with producers to determine if further laboratory testing is necessary. Instructional materials on further testing will be available.

“By offering these Nitrate Quick Test and Water suitability tests, SDSU Extension hopes to minimize the risk of feeding drought stressed feedstuffs to livestock and overall maintain a safe, and productive livestock system,” Grussing said.

For additional information on forage nitrate testing or livestock water quality contact Grussing at 605-995-7378 or Salverson at 605-374-4177.

–SDSU Extension

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