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Soil Testing FAQ’s: the What, Why, When and How

Justin PlattSoil Testing

Soil is one of the Earth’s most important life-giving elements. As such, the health of a soil is inextricably linked to the surrounding plant, animal and human health. 

There’s no doubt that a balanced soil is vital for a healthy ecosystem, but how do you know whether your soil is healthy or not? This is where expert soil testing comes in. 

What is soil testing?

Soil testing is the process of conducting a test or a series of tests that determine a soil’s fertility, pH value, trace elements and other factors that indicate its overall health. A comprehensive soil test measures the interdependence of the relevant chemical, biological, and physical elements in the soil and the environment. 

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Why test the soil?

Commercial soil testing is a common practice in the agricultural industry, largely due to the potential for increased yields and profits if the soil is in good condition. For this reason, a good soil testing program is a valuable tool in determining efficient and economical crop production by analysing – and subsequently optimising – the soil’s health. 

Soil testing can help identify and thus overcome problems such as:

As a result, soil testing and remedying can lead to reduced operating costs, increased yields, better disease and pest tolerance, and better environmental risk management. 

Soil affects human health

When should soil be tested?

Regular soil testing helps to measure the impact that soil health measures are having. For example, an initial soil test may reveal that a soil is too acidic. Measures can be taken to better the pH balance, and the soil test can be rerun to assess the impact that these changes are having on the soil’s acidity.

How is the soil tested?

A critical advantage Zylem offers growers and consultants, is technical support via the superior analytical services of Brookside Laboratories Inc in the United States, one of the oldest and most successful consulting associations in the world.

In particular, their Soil Health Tool (S019) has revolutionised the effective analysis and amelioration of soil utilising an integrated approach that combines chemical and biological test data.

The test is designed to mimic nature’s approach to soil nutrient availability as effectively as possible in a lab. It is the culmination of nearly 20 years of research in soil fertility, and many believe it represents the next step in soil testing for the 21st century. This soil health tool is designed to answer some simple questions about the soil: 

  1. What is your soil’s condition?
  2. Is your soil in balance? 
  3. What can be done to help your soil?

As with most things in life, knowledge is power when it comes to soil health. Having an accurate idea of the condition of your soil helps you identify the steps needed to improve it. 

Get in touch to find out more about our soil testing solutions.

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About the Author: Alex Platt

Alex is Business Development Manager at Zylem. He’s inspired by the potential of regenerative farming and takes a special interest in the technology and products that are moving agriculture in a more sustainable direction.