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MSU to close soil testing lab, contract with commercial facility

Kevin Lavery
MSU will close its soil testing laboratory on December 31.

Michigan State University will close its historic soil testing laboratory by the end of the year.

MSU has tested samples since 1920, at a time when farmers and gardeners had few places to analyze the nutrient levels in their soil.

Now, with more widely available commercial labs, MSU is opting to contract that work.

George Smith, director of AgBioResearch at Michigan State University, says other sites are better equipped for soil analysis.

“Our equipment is no longer up to date, and so the data that the individuals get from their soil testing may in fact be better quality than it was when we were doing the analysis,” Smith said.

Smith says the university will continue to serve its clients, even if the mechanism for testing will be different.

“We will still interpret the lab testing results that come back and make the recommendations that are best for them and their individual situation,” he said.

Smith likens the new model to a medical procedure in which blood work is sent to a lab and a doctor reviews the findings with their patient.

Kevin Lavery is a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things considered.
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