A recent paper examines how soil sieving for proficiency samples affects soil health test parameters. The work, a collaboration of Brinton and the Utah State PSC appears in the international peer-reviewed Agriculture Research and Technology Journal. A focus of the study was if CO2 respiration would be influenced by sieving finer than 2 mm. The paper reflects a concern first raised by Brinton in 2015 at the ASA, CSSA,
The Solvita soil test method has been published in more than 90 peer-reviewed journal articles, a recent tally shows. A nearly equal amount of published papers report the Solvita compost test, a widely-popular procedure that combines CO2 and NH3 emissions to obtain a useful index for practical compost maturity. The worldwide presence of Solvita includes many countries where access to laboratories is limited with in
Solvita is a leading commercial test worldwide for soil CO2 respiration (and compost maturity) and is often in comparisons with newer soil respiration methods vying for market share. Such is the case in a recent study by Oklahoma State University which proposed a semi-automatic Gas Chromatography (GC) method for soil respiration. The team, under Jason Warren, Associate Professor and Soil Management Extension Special
Solvita announced quantitative recovery of nitrate nitrogen via a one-step chemistry conversion, using a Solvtia SLAN probe, “a small feat of basic chemistry” says inventor Brinton. The Solvita SLAN test normally detects ammonia, ammonium and amines released when soil is treated with an alkaline extract. “Its important for soil fertility assessment” says Brinton, “since accumulation of soil organic nitrogen is a fun
Have you wondered if limestone in soil can affect a CO2-respiration test? Or, what the difference is in measuring soil respiration for 1-day “CO2-Burst” versus 3 or 7-days? Many of these questions are topics of a series of short, technical memos on the theme of Solvita testing prepared by Dr. Will Brinton and staff of Woods End Laboratories. While the memos are fairly scientific they are meant for a gener
Woods End Laboratories has announced the release of Solvita VAST (Volumetric Aggregate Stability Test), a rapid laboratory method for measuring water-stable soil aggregates. The new product was created to help soil labs complete the soil health test triangle, which evaluates physical in additon to biological and chemical components of the soil and typifies soil health testing. “The innovative Solvita VAST meth
Scientists critical of soil health testing often stress absolute differences between soil labs performing tests. But what about ranking? Rank-Order statistics focus not on the absolute numbers but on whether labs are similarly distinguishing one type from others, an essential aspect. Now, recent farmer comparisons of soil health tests sent to differing labs give strong evidence that this is key. Despite numerical dif
When organic amendments such as manure or compost are soil applied it is difficult to predict response using ordinary soil tests. Several recent research projects have shed more light on intrinsic nutrient potential of natural fertilizers. The projects all employed Solvita tests including CO2-Burst and SLAN along with other conventional tests, and explored relationships to PMN and yields. Results clearly show that so
To have robust soil health your soil must first meet certain criteria for microbial activity. You can be a marathoner but your exercise regime, rest schedule and nutrition has to be right to succeed. The same applies to microbial activity. The home of microbes is the soil environment which must be suitable for them to flourish. And the quality of specific components determines the integrity of this house. Discussions
I like the analogy of an engine when talking about soil health. What is the size of your soil engine? Have you checked lately? Just like you use a dynamometer to measure the horsepower on a tractor you can use Solvita soil respiration to measure the horsepower of your soil.
The Solvita SLAN test has been gaining steadily as word of mouth, research trials and farmer reports show that organic-bound Nitrogen – the kind revealed by the SLAN test- is of real practical significance.
Blogs provide an excellent opportunity to share information and ideas, discuss management practices and respond to questions from readers. In short – it is a place for a virtual agronomist, like myself to share information on soil health, i.e. what is it, how to measure it and how to manage it and discuss a host of other related topics and ideas.
In science it is often the case that increasing the sample size decreases the variance of the result, meaning large samples produce better estimates of content than do small samples. Soil laboratories use only a few grams of soil per sample for regular nutrient analyses, employing equipment that makes up for soil minutiae with low-level detection capability.
Italy to many, is the birthplace of farming with a soil nomenclature system dating from 500 AD. In the mere distance of Maine to North Carolina they have all four major soil temperature groups – frigid, mesic, thermic and hyperthermic and 4-times the soil unit diversity of the USA.
Interesting and potentially very valuable relationships between CO2 respiration and soil conditions have recently been revealed in a soil monitoring project using the Solvita basal CO2 test. At the Woods End Farm, staff take a soil sample each week and perform in-situ soil respiration (Solvita Basal), without processing the soil, thereby avoiding artifacts.
Soil health testing needs its own set of calibrations and guidelines in order to have its potential fully realized. This has come into focus recently with studies on how soils behave biologically. Normally, when a soil dries out, a sudden addition of rain or irrigation water produces a well-known effect – the “CO2-Burst” – a surge of respiration by microbes springing into action.
Calling it a “health check for your soil” England’s largest independent soil testing firm NRM Laboratories (Berkshire & Norfolk) has introduced UK’s first Soil Health test. The analysis features Solvita as the cornerstone biology test for CO2 evolution combined with a suite of physical and chemical parameters useful to growers.
Farmer interest and innovation in cover cropping is reaching new heights as witnessed by hundreds of farmer attendees at 2 farm events organized by the PA No-Till Alliance in late August. Upgrades and improvements in equipment – many of them designed by farmers – provide almost unsurpassed control in cover cropping and reseeding into no-tilled soils.
Soil CO2 respiration should be center-stage in the emerging Soil Health discussion, according to Brinton who addressed a recent Soil Renaissance gathering in Oklahoma City. He showed early data from the Swedish soil ecologist Lundegårdh who first quantified plant CO2 demand due to photosynthesis and contrasted it with soil CO2 respiration. A biologically active soil was able to cover the plant’s carbon budget b
Soil Health aficionados like to say that roots and worms make channels down into the soil – transferring nutrients and carbon between soil layers. What this looks like in reality was made clear at a recent Soil Health field-day in Berwick, PA, sponsored by NRCS and the PA No-till Alliance, with crop consultant Gerard Troisi and soil tester Will Brinton from Woods End Lab, Maine. A soil pit dug in the triticale cover
Imagine an ideal soil climate, little or no soil tillage, and rotational animal grazing: what’s the soil health of that system? We ran Solvita on soils from the North Island of New Zealand (near where the epic fantasy film The Hobbit was shot) and saw some unusual results: “the Solvita test seems to be all done after only a few hours” NZ consultant Horatio Payne reported. On close examination, the
The “El Camino de Santiago” trail is known to adventurers and Christian pilgrims who traverse this path from France into north-western Spain. Along the way, one experiences the striking, semi-arid Castile y León region farmed to wheat & barley for the last 500 years. Solvita shareholder and former organic farmer, Christopher Brinton, hiked El Camino this summer and was curious about the soil quality h
“They are actually growing soil here”, John Chibirka (USDA-NRCS PA) told the 19th annual Cover Crop and Soil Health gathering of 300 farmers on Steve Groff’s no-till-cover crop farm in Holtwood PA. He was referring to when the 2006 World Soil Congress visited Steve’s farm and found by in situ tests that 20 years of cover-cropping and no-till had resulted in formation of new soil overlaying the topsoil. To the north,
Solvita is used by many commercial soil labs and several labs are now being tracked by independent test proficiency programs. Results so far are promising: a comparison of Woods End’s control results and those reported by other labs shows a high degree of correlation (see Figure). “This means that other labs are basically reporting the same data that we are”, says Brinton, developer of Solvita. Pro