Solvita – a key indicator of biological processes supporting soil health.
Soil health is the foundation of continued productivity and stable yields – and the Solvita® soil test provides the ability to measure the key indicator – CO2 respiration. A common feature of all soil-dwelling organisms whether bacteria, fungi or animals is metabolism – the consumption of litter and detritus and release of respired carbon as CO2 – nature’s natural cycle. It is now well recognized that overall soil respiration is indicative of total soil biology and can be used effectively to monitor and evaluate changes in soil management practices. Solvita provides that capability to soil labs, growers and crop consultants in an easy-to-perform and very accurate sol test method.
Why measure CO2 respiration?
Soil and plants interact in the search for and supply of nutrients. Soil provides the environment for plant growth while plants participate in building and sustaining soils by releasing exudates and leaving behind their own residues. This dynamic cycle is best described as the soil-plant-biology system. In the process, humus is formed and carbon dioxide (CO2) is released due to microbial activity. The relationship between these processes is the bedrock of lasting soil fertility. Declining rates of CO2 respiration are associated with intensive tilling, compaction and over fertilizing. Soil practices which are destructive act to inhibit the soil’s ability to sustain its humus content, the natural reservoir of organic nutrients and soil life. As soil quality declines, microbes food supply diminishes and the rate of CO2 respiration declines. Therefore, being able to evaluate the turnover of organic matter via CO2 respiration is important for a number of reasons.
- As an indicator of soil health – The rate and quantity of CO2 release over a specific period is generally regarded as an accurate indicator of biological attributes favoring Soil Health. The “turnover rate” of CO2 from soil rises with improved management practices. Such practices include cover cropping, reduced tillage and organic amendments which assist to build soil residual organic matter and plant litter, the food base of soil microbes and invertebrates.
- As an indicator of potential nutrients – Measuring the rate of carbon exchange via soil respiration is indirectly linked to nutrient “mineralization” – the potential release of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that are components of plant residues, microbes and humus.
What Solvita soil tests are available?
Whether a test kit or a lab method is the right test for you, Solvita offers a variety of ways to test your soil:
1. Field Test – Testing on the Farm for the Grower or Crop Consultant: Easily measure basal CO2 respiration in the field with the Solvita Field Test. Now in just 24 hours, you can have a barometer of your soil’s biology – a soil basal respiration result that gives you the power to make better decisions on tillage, crop rotation and fertilization. Results are provided in a familiar per-acre basis, much like common nutrient tests. The results give you a general indicator of soil health and carbon dioxide emissions per surface area. You can use them to take advantage of your soil’s natural fertility, and save on fertilizer dollars.
2. CO2 Burst Method – Standard Lab Protocol: As soil biology becomes increasingly recognized as a critical component of productivity, the first choice for professional soil testing laboratories is the Solvita CO2 Burst standard lab protocol. You’ll find a new level of precision for soil health testing as the Solvita method is easily adaptable. Dried, weighed samples of soil are moistened with a specific amount of water, triggering a flush or “burst” of carbon dioxide. The magnitude of the burst is measured with the Solvita Digital Color Reader. The CO2 Burst is proportional to microbial biomass and directly tied to potential carbon and nitrogen mineralization.
3. SLAN Test – Lab Testing for Organic Nitrogen: Use this innovative lab test to measure the pool of organic nitrogen, called alkali-labile soil amino-N, that’s available in your soil. Request the SLAN test to see if free ammonia (NH3) is available. CROP advisors and farmers can use the information their lab provides from the Solvita Labile Amino Nitrogen Test to develop better soil management strategies.
4. Health Toolbox – A New Way for Labs to Look at Soil: Many labs exploring soil health have incorporated the Solvita soil CO2 Burst test into routine tests of Soil Health – including new efforts to extract nutrients with more “green chemistry” soil reagents. CO2 respiration is a common feature of soil biology indexes and soil health scores and may are based on the Solvita respiration methods. To learn more, visit Woods End Laboratories.
Forms of Solvita testing are offered at 35 commercial labs in the US, the UK, South Africa and Australia. Please see the Solvita Lab Map for a lab in your area. If your soil lab isn’t performing the CO2 Burst test or the Solvita Labile Amino Nitrogen test, ask them about it today. For more information call 800-451-0337. To order a Solvita soil test, visit our store.