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. NRM studied the premise over the past year with Solvita CO2 trials on several soils in 2013 and 2014 and consulted with agronomists and crop advisers leading up to releasing the soil package. According to the NRM press release “This package has been created to bridge the gap between standard physical/chemical soil analysis and comprehensive microbial analysis at the same time providing vital information on how the soil components are interacting”.
“We’ve had quite a good response right off the start,” said NRM’s Duncan Rose who predicts NRM will follow up with an enhanced test adding additional nitrogen parameters – allowing the soil health index to be used to optimize fertilizer rates, similar to the manner in which the Soil Health Tool is used by some commercial labs in the USA. NRM clients receive a unique Soil Health Index number calculated from CO2 evolution, a potential-N mineralization index combined with physical structure and nutrients.
The announcement of the new test by a UK lab is meaningful to inventor Will Brinton who first announced the Solvita CO2 soil test to the international science community at Oxford University in an event organized by the Soil Association in 1995. “It’s satisfying to arrive full circle with the country that gave us the concept of the “Living Soil” in Eve Balfour’s 1943 book – and a prince and future King committed to soil quality.” (Brinton’s lab was commissioned by Prince Charles in 1992 to perform a nutrient resource audit of HRH’s organic farm in Tetbury). According to NRM’s Duncan Rose, “the Soil Health Test will be a useful tool for both conventional and organic farming systems.” It is accompanied by a 24 page manual Soil Health Handbook for customers utilizing the service. See www.nrm.uk.com.