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.
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
“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