Woods End Laboratories

Healthy Soil

Healthy Science

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Biological Fertility

Since 1975 Woods End has offered alternative soil testing with emphasis on soil organic matter and biological functions as they influence overall fertility. These tests have evolved over time as has the scientific soil-testing community.  In 1988 Woods End launched a “Soil Quality Audit” combining physical and biological tests with ordinary nutrient tests, thereby becoming possibly the very first American lab offering what today is called a “comprehensive soil health” test.

Woods End’s focus on soil testing is different and more comprehensive than other soil labs and especially compared to so called soil health test labs.  Our focus is on “natural test methods” that include the following:

  • Minimal disturbance:  Most sol labs use hammermill grinders to prep soils before testing. Woods End has proven that this approach causes a de-structuring and disruption of biological functioning. Instead, all soils are prepared only with soil-rollers, a more natural method that preserves intrinsic soil properties;
  • Measuring organo-physical traits: No conventional labs measure water stable aggregates. Woods End has a special volumetric (“VAST”) method that enables accurate designation of erosion-prone vs dispersion-resistant soil;
  • Biological assays:  soil microbial respiration is used for carbon turnover and soil labile amino-N (“SLAN”) for accumulated organic-N;
  • Regionalization: Beginning in 2018 all Woods End reports are matched physiographically to climate zone, rainfall and soil order and sub-orders
  • Appropriate Interpretation: Soil health indicators are adjusted to the eco-region from whence soil derives, avoiding generalization of soil health criteria

The overall approach is represented by the commonly used “triangle” of chemical, physical and biological traits reported as a unified test. Woods End is America’s only lab that has consistently since 1988 used this approach. The test compares to other protocols which also emphasize the interaction of these factors.

1-Regular Soil Health test

  • Accounts for soil microbial biomass, with a view that this is very nutrient-relevant;
  • Evaluates nutrient mineralization potential, the core of the nutrient supply mechanism for plants
  • Represents nutrients likely to be “plant relevant” from lighter-weight extractants
  • Evaluates quality of the pool of soil organic matter.

2-Soil Health “MINI”

  • A new basic health test meant to be a companion to common soil nutrient analyses obtained elsewhere or through your favorite soil lab. The mini adds information about biological and bio-physical traits.  Included are Solvita tests, CO2-Burst, SLAN, Water Stable Aggregates Water soluble carbon (WSOC) see Sample Info Form for pricing

 The Regular Soil Health Test:

  • Watch for Changes in 2018!  includes: Solvita microbial-CO2, Solvita organic-SLAN and Aggregate Stability.  Wil linclude bulk-density, nitrate, soil organic matter, pH and nutrient balances. see Sample Info Form for pricing

What you get:

  • A comprehensive report with a Fertility Score and a Soil Health Score. The standardized Score uses an open source formula with equal weighting of 5 attributes associated with high functioning soils. The fertility score shows the expected nutrient supply (based on expected crops) integrated with the soil health score.
  • Interpretation Guide: Each customer receives a full interpretation guideline with the report. For a Quick Guide click here.
  • Please provide the following:
    1. The soil sample: (wet or dry) in a quart sized ziplock bag, with the date of the sample and the intended crops.  If the location is different than the zip code on the order, please provide specific GPS or sample zip code information which we use to map to your climate zone.
    2. Sample Information Form: Please attach the following Sample-information with each order.

**Mail to our PO BOX if sending via USPS, or our street address if sending via UPS or FEDEX**

SAMPLE REPORT (regular) color coded on high-medium-low scales: (for explanation see PDF-Memo ).

sample Woods End soil fertility and health report


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