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Nitrate QuikTest for Forages

The Nitrate QuikTest for Forages is available at various South Dakota State University (SDSU) Extension locations and veterinary clinics across the state and is designed to be used with standing forages prior to harvesting for hay or grazing. It allows producers to make decisions based on the presence or absence of nitrates and appropriate timing for cutting.  

This is a qualitative test. Therefore, if the results are positive, the recommendation will be to wait a few days and bring an additional sample in for re-testing. If it is negative, the hay can be cut without risk of nitrates. If the hay has already been cut and it tests positive, the recommendation will be to send a core sample in after the hay is baled so that a representative sample can be collected and sent to a lab for quantitative analysis prior to feeding.  

A representative sample needs to be taken from different areas across the field to reflect topography and soil differences. These factors can affect nitrate levels. Select plants from at least 10 different areas and cut the plant at ground level or pull it out of the ground so that the lowest growth nodes can be tested.  The more representative the sample, the better the test will work to identify potential nitrate concerns.

Be diligent about testing forages prior to haying or grazing to prevent the negative impacts that nitrates can cause, specifically in ruminant animals. If crops such as wheat, fail to make grain and producers plan to utilize it for a hay crop, test it for nitrates prior to harvest to determine safety level. The higher levels of nitrogen fertilizer that is applied, the higher the risk for nitrate toxicity. Always err on the side of caution and have feeds tested.

Please contact your nearest location to have a Nitrate QuikTest completed.  For specific questions on the test, contact Adele Harty or Jaelyn Quintana.

Testing Locations and Certified Testers

SDSU Extension Regional Centers

​​​SDSU Extension County Offices


Other Locations