Illinois Soil Testing Association (ISTA) membership and lab accreditation appears to be the best way for soil test labs to prove to agronomists and crop consultants that those soil test results that are pulled for clients will be accurate.

Soil analysis requires reliability, consistency and accuracy. ISTA claims membership is proof positive that a soil testing laboratory strives to meet these expectations.

That there are enough soil test laboratories in the state of Illinois to have a state association seems unusual, but taking advantages of using a lab that is accredited seems logical.

"The Illinois Soil Testing Association Lab Accreditation Program (ISTA-LAP) has been established to assure soil test results provided by participating labs serving the citizens of Illinois are within industry statistical norms of the test method. Based on this premise, soil test results from ISTA-LAP approved labs shall be accepted under the U.S. Department of Agriculture NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Services) code 590 of nutrient management, revised January 2012,” the association has announced.

The association notes that the program is a voluntary program for laboratories seeking accreditation for soil testing in the state of Illinois and that three times per year the soil test performance of participating ISTA labs will be reviewed by the LAP assessor based on proficiency test results from the Agricultural Laboratory Proficiency (ALP) program.

“Laboratories providing soil test results within performance limits of the ISTA-LAP program, will be placed on the ISTA approved lab list, posted on the associations web site. Laboratories that fail to meet performance limits, will be offered a retest, and with successful performance, reinstatement,” it was explained by ISTA.

More details on the program can be found on the ISTA website: www.soiltesting.org/labcertification.html