Thursday, June 13, 2024

MSU soil lab adds carbon test to services

Mississippi State University soil test boxes
Mississippi State University soil sample boxes — photo courtesy Mississippi State University

Mississippi agricultural producers and landowners who are interested in carbon sequestration can test their soil’s carbon content through the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

The Extension Soil Testing Laboratory recently added tests that quantify amounts of organic matter and detect total carbon and nitrogen content in soil.

“An agricultural soil carbon sequestration market is developing as a climate change mitigation tool,” said Larry Oldham, Extension soil specialist. “A number of private sector companies have initiatives in various stages of development, and there is increasing emphasis within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Landowners or farmers who are following this process about carbon credits and carbon sequestration may be curious about the current soil carbon levels currently on their land.”

By knowing the carbon content at this point, landowners can gauge the potential for increase through adopting certain best management practices. Reducing tillage, using cover crops and implementing crop rotations are among the practices that can increase carbon content, Oldham said.

Tests for organic matter, nitrogen and carbon can be done using the same soil submitted for routine testing. There is no need to pull extra soil samples.

Routine soil analysis costs $8 per sample; the new test can be added for an additional $2 per sample. When ordered without the routine soil tests, cost for organic matter, nitrogen and carbon testing is $4 per sample.

Soil sample boxes, submission forms, soil probes and soil sampling directions can be obtained at the local Extension office. Find contact information for offices on the Extension website at

Mississippi State University contributed this article.

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