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 general audience to help appreciate the background and “interesting details” in the arena of measuring soil biological traits associated with soil health.

“There’s no end to the pertinent discussions” says Dr Brinton, “particularly as more scientists at Land-Grant Universities, USDA-ARS, and private soil testing laboratories are experimenting with soil health tests and coming up with varying modes of interpretation”.

In one study of soil samples from 6 farms sent to 4 different soil health labs, despite differences in methods, the “rank-order correlations from good to poor soils were essentially identical”, according to Brinton. “This underscores the fact that facets of soil biology are interrelated”.  The Technical Memos will explore a theme of interrelationships of Solvita tests to other observations and methods.

Brinton says the Solvita tech memos are written from his own experience, reflecting an early start in Europe in the late 1970’s when soil health testing got off the ground officially and coalesced around 1-day and 7-day CO2-respiration along with soil enzymes, soil porosity and earthworm counts. Respiration also developed into a compost quality assessment and formed the basis for a new approach for rating compost maturity. “The field of biology tests which partly replace chemical analyses has developed steadily over 40-years and we’re gaining new insights which the tech memos will explore”.

Solvita invites comments and queries that can be a focus for future memos on methodology. List of current Tech Memos

First Series of Technical Notes are available by selecting topics within the group here.