NECC1312: Northeast Coordinating Committee on Soil Testing

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NECC1312: Northeast Coordinating Committee on Soil Testing

Duration: 10/01/2013 to 09/30/2018

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Soil, plant, and waste residuals analysis are the cornerstones for economical and environmentally sustainable nutrient stewardship in the Northeast US and in the entire country. Nutrient management has remained a high priority in the region due to continued degradation of surface and ground water resources. The Northeast has a more urban population than most other regions, with a substantial interest in home garden, local, and organic food production. With increasing regulation of nutrient inputs, on both commercial farms and now private homes, a coordinated approach to fertility management is paramount. NEC-1012 and other regional Soil Testing Committees are increasingly involved in advising both state and national regulators (NRCS, USEPA, and others) on appropriate regional test methods, nutrient modeling systems, and regulatory guidelines. Commercial labs also rely on Committee resources and members for technical expertise on new and existing test methods.

With universally dwindling resources and personnel, collaborative efforts are absolutely necessary for evaluation of new test methods, instrumentation, crop production, and nutrient modeling systems. NEC-1012 has a long history of mutual support among its members, as well as running collaborative research projects and methods evaluation. New testing and recommendation systems for soil fertility, nutrient management, and environmental quality are best validated on a regional basis through NEC-1012. State-specific research information is shared at each meeting, to the benefit of all members, their colleagues, and the entire region.

Outreach to stakeholders is achieved through maintaining and updating a Committee website with our Northeast Soil Testing Methods Manual. As new methods are evaluated and validated within the group, they are added to the Manual. This and other regional manuals are the primary references used by NRCS nutrient management programs and also by national laboratory proficiency testing programs (NAPT, ALP). Additional technical papers and articles will be added as they are approved. NEC-1012 also sponsors and members present training sessions at CCA, ASA, and other regional meetings. The Committee will also be soliciting input and participation from the commercial testing industry on methods development, implementation, and oversight.

With competing and often conflicting interests among stakeholders and other clientele, there continues to be a great need for NEC-1012 to foster and encourage cooperation among Land Grant University research programs and to disseminate this information in a timely manner to its members, to state and federal agencies, and to the commercial testing industry. NEC-1012 provides the valuable function of unbiased expertise and resources for all stakeholders in this diverse and unique region.


  1. To improve, standardize, and validate soil, plant, and waste analysis methods used within the Northeastern region of the US.
  2. To improve crop nutrient recommendations based on soil, plant, and waste analysis results, crop management factors, and environmental sustainability
  3. To provide a forum for discussing and responding to challenges facing soil testing and nutrient management efforts.
  4. To support Extension efforts in soil testing, nutrient management, and related environmental issues.
  5. To serve as an educational resource on the appropriate use and interpretation of soil, plant and waste analysis for the general public, environmental and nutrient management regulators, and the commercial testing industry.

Procedures and Activities

The Committee will include members from the regional land-grant universities with expertise in soil testing, plant and waste analysis, and soil fertility and nutrient management. The Committee will strive to achieve its objectives by:

1.Meeting annually to discuss advances in soil, plant and waste analysis methods, laboratory instrumentation and data management, nutrient management techniques, issues and policies, and the relevant research and Extension efforts occurring in each state within the region.

2.Pursuing cooperative research efforts among the participants in the areas of soil testing methodology, soil fertility and field calibration, and nutrient management.

3.Sharing all soil test calibration and crop nutrient response data among all members on an ongoing basis.

4.Holding discussions by conference call or e-mail at other times during the year, on issues of immediate importance within the region and serving as a collective resource for all members.

5.Providing and updating a Committee website as the primary means of improving access to regional soil testing and nutrient management information by others outside the committee.

6.Interacting with other soil testing and nutrient management communities to promote cooperative efforts on a national scale by meeting jointly every four years with the other regional workgroups, including NCERA-13, SERA-IEG-6, and Western States laboratories. Members also participate in other groups such as MASTPAWG, SPAC, SSSA, ASA and CSA.

7.The workgroup holds a voting seat on the Oversight Committee of the North American Proficiency Testing Program for Agricultural Laboratories (NAPT). One member is elected to a 3-year term.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Continued updating of 2011 revision of Cooperative Bulletin No. 493 Recommended Soil Testing Methods for the Northeastern United States, as new methods are developed and validated and existing methods are revised or improved
  • Enhancement of the Committee website to include approved articles and relevant fact sheets on soil metals analysis, plant tissue analysis, compost testing and use, and other issues not included in routine soil fertility testing
  • Continued work on calibration and adoption of the Modified Mehlich Buffer to replace the SMP buffer.
  • Evaluation of the Moore/Sikora Buffer replacement for the Adams/Evans buffer
  • Exchange of information on soil sulfur testing and sulfur recommendations.
  • Exchange of information on compost testing and recommended uses of compost
  • Exchange of information on nutrient management of forage pastures
  • Discussion and regional factsheet development on nutrient management for wildlife food plots
  • Development of a regional database of nutrient sufficiency ranges for plant tissue
  • Discussion on the new methodology, interpretation and importance of cation exchange capacity and base saturation in nutrient management
  • Discussion of the philosophy, science, and regulation behind nutrient recommendations for turf in the region
  • Review of non-chemical fertilizer recommendations for certified organic farmers and gardeners, with possible production of uniform regional guidelines
  • Review of existing soil test methods and recommendations for high tunnel production systems, with possible development of uniform regional guidelines
  • Discussion, review, and evaluation of new and existing nitrogen management tools
  • Evaluate and validate new test method for soil biomass and active carbon
  • Review and revision of the national manure analysis methods handbook as needed in conjunction with other workgroups.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

1. The committee will maintain and update online Cooperative Bulletin No. 493 to serve as primary reference and an educational guideline for laboratories serving the region.

2. Committee members will provide educational presentations at national, regional, and local meetings to communicate new and existing test methods, nutrient management philosophies and tools to all stakeholders in the region.

3. Regional factsheets will be prepared as a means of disseminating information to various groups including Extension educators, regional laboratories (public and private), commercial growers, commercial landscapers and/or homeowners.

4. The development of an online plant nutrient sufficiency database will provide an accessible tool for a variety of users -- Extension, academia, commercial growers, industry, etc


The committee is governed by a Committee Chair and a Secretary selected on a rotational basis from the participating states. A new secretary is selected at the end of the annual meeting at which point the current Secretary becomes Committee Chair for the next 12 months. The Committee Chair is responsible for organizing the annual meeting and planning the agenda. The Secretary records the minutes at the meeting for which he/she is Secretary.
Administrative guidance is provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.

Literature Cited

NECC-1012, 2011. Recommended Soil Testing Procedures for the Northeastern United States. 3rd Edition. Northeastern Reg. Bull. No 493. Univ. of Del., Newark, DE.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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