Nitrate quick test training sessions April 15 and April 21

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Although drought years are when producers tend to think about the risk of nitrates in feed supplies, according to Adele Harty, SDSU Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist, nitrates in feeds can be a concern, no matter the growing conditions.

“Certain plants are nitrate accumulators and can contain toxic levels of nitrate when consumed by cattle and sheep,” Harty said. “Various nitrate levels will have different effects, from decreasing performance to abortions to death.

Harty explained that producers can potentially save money by not having to send all samples to a laboratory, but instead using the Nitrate Quick Test as an initial test that helps determine whether there is risk and further laboratory analysis is needed.

“By providing this test, producers can be proactive in decreasing the nitrates fed to cattle, which subsequently decreases death loss and abortion as a result,” she said.

Since the start of the Nitrate Quick Test in South Dakota, more than 1,500 samples have been analyzed in local offices, with only a portion of these needing to be sent to an analytical laboratory for further analysis.

In 2012 nearly 400 samples were tested across the state with approximately 80 percent testing positive for nitrates. In 2013, Harty said a smaller number of sorghum, sudan and millet samples were tested. Of those tested, the percent testing positive was still around 70 percent which she said indicates the need to continue to test samples, even during what we would consider normal years.

Pre-register by April 4, 2014

SDSU Extension will be hosting Nitrate Quick Test Recertification and New Certification Trainings in April. In the past, this training was offered only to SDSU staff and Veterinarians. However, this year, SDSU Extension will be opening the training up to producers and other industry professionals who are interested in testing their forages for nitrates to help prevent the occurrence of nitrate poisoning.

If you were not trained to perform the Nitrate Quick Test in 2013 you will need to attend one of the New Certification Trainings, which will not last longer than 2 hours in length. If you were trained in 2013, you can attend one of the recertification sessions, which is 1 hour in length. Both the New Certification and Recertification will be offered twice to give more people an opportunity to participate.

New Certification training cost $25 and Recertification costs $10. These costs will cover the supplies needed to do the testing, as well as the test solution.

Recertification is required on an annual basis.

Trainings will be held April 15 and April 21 at eight locations across the state. All Recertification classes on April 15 begin at 1 p.m. (MDT) and all Recertification classes on April 21 begin at 8:30 a.m. (MDT); these classes only last one-hour. All New Certification classes on April 15 start at 2 p.m. (MDT) and all New Certification classes on April 21 begin at 9:30 a.m. (MDT); these classes only last two hours.

Pre-register by April 4 to ensure each location has adequate supplies. To register call 605-394-1722; for additional information contact Harty at 605-394-1722 or

Trainings will be held at the following eight locations:

• Aberdeen – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Aberdeen (13 2nd Ave. SE)

• Lemmon – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Lemmon (408 8th St. W)

• Mitchell – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Mitchell (1800 E. Spruce)

• Pierre – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Pierre (412 W. Missouri Ave.)

• Sioux Falls – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Sioux Falls (2001 E. 8th St.)

• Watertown – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Watertown (1910 W. Kemp Ave.)

• Rapid City – at the West River Ag Center-(1905 Plaza Drive)

• Winner – SDSU Extension Regional Center in Winner (325 S. Monroe St.)

For more information, visit