Many Missouri produce growers are utilizing the free microbial water testing available through the University of Missouri Extension and Kansas State University. These water test reports are very beneficial for growers to understand the microbial safety of both pre-harvest and post-harvest water. We are pleased to announce that the free testing program will be available until at least December 31, 2021.
As a reminder, growers can go to their local (usually county) health department to ask for a bacteriology private water testing kit (for as many water sources as you would like to test), which will include a sample bottle and submission form. An example of how growers might fill out the form for a pond sample is included below.
Please ensure that filled sample bottles are returned to the local public health department (generally Monday-Thursday, 8AM-4PM) within 24 hours of collection of the sample, and in time to catch the courier that transports the sample to the testing lab.
The test results, including the level of generic E. coli and total coliforms in the water sample, are received within approximately one week of the sample arriving at the laboratory. If test results indicate that E. coli levels are greater than about 126 MPN/100mL, we suggest re-testing the water in a few more weeks, using good hygienic practices when collecting the sample. If test results are consistently high, consider treating the water or utilizing the water source with high E. coli levels for lower-risk activities, such as drip irrigation of non-root crops. Please contact Londa Nwadike (913-307-7391) or Patrick Byers (417-859-2044) of MU Extension if you have more questions on water quality.
REVISED: February 16, 2021