Soil biological forces interact with soil weathering to form a cornerstone of productivity and stable yields – and Solvita® soil tests capture key biological, chemical and physical traits indicating healthy functioning.
A common feature of the soil-plant system is soil-dwelling organisms – bacteria, fungi, animals – expressing their activity and mass by metabolism – the consumption of litter and detritus and release of respired carbon as CO2. This is nature’s natural cycle. It is widely 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. In addition, respiring organisms and plant roots contribute to broader soil properties. Solvita tests provide a capability for researchers to fairly easily and cost-effectively monitor these traits.
What Solvita soil tests are available?
Solvita offers a variety of ways to test your soil:
1. Field CO2 Test: This application is designed for testing fresh, relatively undisturbed soil that is not processed in a lab and is the original Solvita method developed by Brinton in the early 1990’s. The objective is to reveal “basal” or normal background respiration with minimal artifact effects of soil lab processing. This form of respiration is the natural soil metabolism as it likely functions in the field (temperature and moisture dependent). Use as a general indicator of soil biological activity and ideal for comparing soil treatment effects without the interference of lab grinding and processing. The magnitude of the response may be quantified with the Solvita Digital Color Reader in either the field DCR or Yellow-ALT DCR mode.
2. CO2 Burst Method – Lab Protocol: Intended for commercial soil lab settings where dried, sieved soil is a normal operational protocol prior to testing. Soil is moistened with a relative volume of water, triggering a flush or “burst” of carbon dioxide. This expresses the soil’s microbial potential under disturbance conditions. This is the test of choice if fresh soil samples are not available or for soil regions experiencing intermittent strong dry/wet cycles. CO2-Burst respiration is normally 2 – 4 times higher than natural, basal respiration- an effect integrating grinding exposure of organic matter, sieving and osmotic burst effects of sudden rewetting of soil. The magnitude of the burst is quantified with the Solvita Digital Color Reader.
3. SLAN Test – Soil Labile Amino Nitrogen: Use this Solvita test to measure the pool of stored organic soil nitrogen present in humus as amino-sugars, some of which in dependence on soil metabolism will be available in the course of a season. The test is extremely easy to setup and perform but does require use of a strong reagent and is not intended for casual use. SLAN has been found to provide important insight into accumulated soil health factors – chiefly the favorable presence organic-fractions of nitrogen and crop rotations including legumes.
4. VAST – Volumetric Aggregate Stability Test: This unique procedure enables assessing the quality of physical aggregation of soil due to biological and chemical soil properties. Developed first in the 1980’s by Brinton to study crop-rotational effects on soil structure, the test is unusually rapid and is repeatable with careful user control on methodology. The procedure has recently been released in a licensing structure to enable further interactive sharing within the soil health community. VAST makes testing this key trait of soil quality relatively rapid and is provided with a computational spreadsheet for expressing results.
5. Comprehensive Soil Health Suite – The Integrated Way to Evaluate Soil: Many soil advisers exploring healthy soil functioning wish to combine a set of simple, reliable tests from the Solvita family into routine nutrient tests. The “Suite” enables this since it recognizes that any one test alone is not sufficient to judge soil biological functioning. It combines CO2 respiration and accumulated humus-N (SLAN test) with water stable aggregates (VAST test). The Soil Suite is provided with a comprehensive soil fertility index calculator to report results. To learn more, visit Woods End Laboratories.
6. IRTH – a revolutionary, new natural soil respirometer. Designed by Brinton and his team, IRTH enables real-time measurement of soil metabolism as a continuous event from 1 to 7-days in any configuration of basal or pre-dried conditions. Integrates highly sensitive wide-range NDIR detection with the optical-physics of the Solvita color fertility scale, the equipment provides new unique potentials for soil studies.
Solvita tests are offered by many soil consultants in the US, Europe, South Africa and Australia.
If your favorite soil lab isn’t performing the CO2 Burst test, the Solvita Labile Amino Nitrogen test or VAST, and being evaluated by the Solvita proficiency program ask them about it today.
For more information call 800-451-0337. To order a Solvita soil test, visit our store.