In the past, lengthy sample submission paperwork – in addition to the time already forfeited to actually gather feed, forage, fecal, or water samples – could reduce the sampling process to a lethargic pace. Not to mention how much these factors taper the progress of the sample analysis and outstanding results. Writing out farm name after farm name becomes daunting and human errors fall into the mix, causing confusion all the way down the line. Luckily, in the last few years, new technology has brought sample analysis submission options into the twenty-first century.

“Sample submission and even sample tracking once the sample has entered the lab advanced exponentially in the last 2-3 years,” explained Zac Meyer, director of operations for Rock River Laboratory. “New tools have eased the minds and time contributions nutritionists and consultants used to sacrifice for the good of their clients.”

Barcode systems and smart phone applications now open new doors for easy, accurate sample submission to the desired laboratory. Barcodes are utilized by laboratories to attach a number to each sample to submit the details of the sample electronically. Placing a barcode sticker on a sample bag, or utilizing a pre-coded bag, a cell phone application can scan or gather a photo of the barcode – ultimately leading to an electronic form with the fields that can then include details of the sample and farm.

“Barcode technology has been around for years, but finally implementing it for sample paperwork submission has saved our customers time and headaches,” said Meyer. “Electronic forms may seem daunting to some, but upon learning the technology they can lessen the human errors and reduce the smudging and handwriting issues we’ve dealt with in the laboratory for years.”

New application tools have also emerged allowing all portions of this barcode system to be unified in one, packaged spot on a smart phone or tablet. These new sample-submission applications eliminate the need to toggle between an online form, a scanner and the barcode on the bag.

“With one streamlined approach, a barcode can be scanned or number implemented followed by a simple guided drive through the various form fields that are needed before submitting electronically,” explained Meyer. “In some cases, these forms have the option to select from previously chosen farms to reduce continual entry of the same name, and may also utilize drop down menus to keep information accurate while speeding up the submission process.”

While the technology to teleport forage, feed, fecal or even water samples to the laboratory has yet to be developed, the advancements we’ve seen in the last few years may be an indication that this figment of our imagination won’t be long to fruition. In the meantime, you can now submit sample details probably as quickly as you can order and receive a Egg McMuffin from McDonalds.