UNL CropWatch: Jan. 28, 2011 Legislative Hearing Feb. 7 for Bill on Notification of Soil Sampling

UNL CropWatch: Jan. 28, 2011 Legislative Hearing Feb. 7 for Bill on Notification of Soil Sampling

Jan. 28, 2011

A bill before the Nebraska Legislature would revise state regulations regarding notification of excavations, including soil samples, and could affect thousands of farmers across the state.

If not passed, this regulation could have “a significant impact on Nebraska crop producers, as hundreds of thousands of soil samples are collected annually in the state, as well as thousands of [soil] cores and soil water monitoring [installations],” said Richard Ferguson, UNL extension soils specialist.

Several Nebraska farm groups are seeking further information and clarification from state offices on when notification would be required for agricultural soil samples, including at the 6-inch to 3-foot depth. Samples at these depths are often recommended for soil nutrient and other tests as well as installation of soil monitoring equipment.

A legislative hearing has been set for Feb. 7 to hear comments on LB 484, which would exclude certain soil sampling practices from the definition of excavation under the One-Call Notification System Act.

The hearing will be before the Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 1113 of the State Capitol. LB484 was introduced by Senators Galen Hadley (Legislative District 37), Tom Carlson (38), Colby Coash (27), Annette Dubas (34), Thomas Hansen (42), Dennis Utter (33), and Norman Wallman (30).

The main change provided by LB 484 would be to exclude activities related to three types of soil sampling from the notification requirement:

  • soil sampling for agricultural nutrient and water management purposes;
  • soil sampling performed to meet requirements of local, state, or federal regulations; and
  • soil sampling performed for manure management, and installation of soil moisture monitoring equipment.

The bill does not stipulate excavation depths for the soil sampling activities.

Soil tests help producers determine existing soil nutrient levels to reduce unnecessary application of fertilizers.

The Nebraska Legislature passed the One-Call Notification System Act in 1994, leading to the Digger’s Hotline of Nebraska. The notification system provides a central resource for notification of the exact location of future excavations so the office can determine whether any utility, communication, or other lines might be cut or damaged, disrupting service and potentially creating a safety concern.

Lisa Jasa
CropWatch Editor