This time of year, some people start thinking about their gardens, yards and crops–getting the soil ready, removing weeds, deciding what to plant. The list of chores is endless.
The department’s Standards Division has already been busy tackling its own spring “to-do list,” and staff are about ready to mark one task off the list. In February, staff started their annual inspections of fertilizer, bark, mulch and top soil processors in the state. Inspectors check to make sure bags contain the stated net contents, so if you pick up a 50-pound bag of fertilizer, you can expect to get 50 pounds of fertilizer.
Inspections start early in the year in an effort to get to sites during the peak of their production and before materials are shipped to retail stores. Individual sample bags are selected randomly, and the number tested is based on the amount in a production lot. For example, in a production run of 2,000 bags, 24 will be randomly pulled and weighed. Inspectors also test the accuracy of truck scales at processing facilities to assure fairness with trailer-load bulk sales.
A lot will be rejected if two bags tested are not within a half-pound of their stated content weight. If a lot is rejected, the company can break open the bags and repackage the materials with the appropriate amount of product.
So why is all this testing important?
As consumers, each of us wants to get be sure we are getting what we pay for. Also, the product in a bag or on a scale represents money, either in the seller’s pocket or from a buyer’s wallet. Fertilizer prices have risen considerably in the past two years, making it even more important for buyers to get the amount advertised.
Jerry Butler, supervisor of the inspection program, reports that inspections this year have gone well. Happily, they have seen few problems.
Now it’s time to get digging!