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
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.
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.
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
The practice of fertilizing soils based on hoped-for crop yields while ignoring nutrients already present in the soil or about to be released by biological processes may be directly contributing to a potentially explosive situation of algal blooms on the Great Lakes – and other places. Images that NOAA has released over a 10-year period for Lake Erie show that in 2011 the algal bloom was the most extensive R