Nitrate QuikTest for forages available across South Dakota

SDSU Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — The Nitrate QuikTest for forages is available at various SDSU Extension locations across South Dakota. This qualitative test is designed to be used with standing forages prior to being harvested for hay. By utilizing the test, producers are better equipped to make decisions based on the presence or absence of nitrates and appropriate timing for cutting.

Potential nitrate concerns can be best identified by obtaining a representative sample of the forage. In order to be properly tested and evaluated, these samples need to be taken from at least 10 different areas across the field to reflect topography and soil differences, as these factors can affect nitrate levels. Plants should be cut at either the ground level or pulled out of the ground so that the lowest growth nodes can be used for the test.

If the forage tests positive, it is recommended to wait a few days before bringing in an additional sample for testing. Negative test results mean the hay can be cut without the risk of nitrates. If the hay has already been cut and tests positive, producers are urged to take a representative core sample and send it to a commercial laboratory for quantitative analysis prior to feeding the forage to livestock.

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, please call ahead if bringing samples to any of the listed testing locations to ensure samples can be tested in a timely manner. Upon arrival, producers should fill out an intake form and place samples in the drop box located outside of the office in each location. The intake form will contain important information regarding the sample and the best way producers can be contacted with results. Samples will be tested as quickly as possible.

Contact your nearest location to have a Nitrate QuikTest completed. For specific questions on the test, contact Adele Harty at 605-394-1722 or or Ken Olson at 605-394-2236 or