Time for soil analysis

Soil analysis gives the background knowledge on the chemical, physical and biological status of a soil that we need in order to properly manage our soils and crops.

Time for soil analysis - measure to manage

Why take a soil sample? 

In Justus von Liebig’s Law of Minimum he stated that plant growth is not controlled by the total amount of resources  available, but by the scarcest resource or the limiting factor. 

Limiting factors could be the climate/weather, the soil, water, variety/seed, nutrient availability, weeds and pests, and many others, but to manage these factors it is important to measure them and understand those that are limiting. 

Soil analysis gives the background knowledge on the chemical, physical and biological status of the soil that we need in order to mange our soils and our crops. 

Liebig's Barrel

What to analyse? 

Most of the work, and cost, of analysis is in the sampling and transporting the sample to the laboratory. Once the sample has arrived there are a wide range of tests that can be conducted that give a lot of information about that soil and start to identify those limiting factors.

Nutrient analysis 

Soil analysis provides an inventory of the available nutrients and provides the background to build a nutrient management plan. Basic soil analysis in the UK includes P, K, Mg and pH, but this analysis only provides a part of the information needed as other nutrients can be limit crop growth. In order to get the most from a soil sample it is important to analyse for all nutrients using a full broad spectrum analysis. 

Chemical and physical analysis 

The physical and chemical characteristics of the soil need to be considered before making any soil management decisions or planning a nutrient application strategy. Soil pH, Cation Exchange Capacity, organic matter and soil texture all have an impact on how we manage our soils and crops. 

Biological analysis 

An active population of soil organisms is essential to a healthy soil; they contribute to the re-cycling of nutrients from the humus, organic matter and soil particles, making them available for plant uptake. Together with organic matter, a biological analysis provides a rounded picture of the soil’s overall health and its potential for producing high yielding, quality crops.

What analysis packages are available ?

Soil Broad Spectrum (BS)

P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn, Na, CEC, pH, Lime Requirement

Soil Broad Spectrum Extra (BSE)

P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn, Na, CEC, pH, Lime Requirement 

plus 

Organic Matter, Sand %, Silt %, Clay % and soil texture classification

Soil Biology Basic (SBB)

Total Bacteria, Total Fungi, and Ratios

Soil Biology Extra (SBE)

Total Bacteria, Total Fungi, Active Bacteria, Active Fungi, Hyphal Diameter and Ratios

Soil Biology Complete (SBC)

Total Bacteria, Total Fungi, Active Bacteria, Active Fungi, Hyphal Diameter and Ratios, Protozoa (Flagellates, Amoebae, Ciliates)