Woods End Laboratories

Healthy Soil

Healthy Science

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Analyzing Soil Quality and Soil Health

In response to the growing interest in qualities of soil supporting healthy functioning, we have upgraded Woods End’s traditional set of soil tests to form an integrated, biologically-oriented protocol. The principal component of the new approach is minimal disruption and disturbance of soil samples leading into analysis. This forms the basis for careful evaluation of biological properties and the physical traits that are “interactions” with healthy soil biology. Chemistry is the third and lowest tier. The overall approach is represented by the “quality triangle” of chemical, physical and biological traits measured and reported as a unified test.

The new emphasis on Soil Health prioritizes biological activity of the soil system represented by CO2 respiration, building on procedures developed and tested at Woods End for over 30 years.  The second priority in soil quality characterization is the measure of soil aggregate stability, measured in a unique volumetric water-dispersion protocol that has been a backbone of Woods End soil work since 1986, and soon to be published as a general method. Finally we evaluate soil nutrients with a variety of newer extracts including water, and a new dilute organic-acid solvent which simulates the soil-root biochemical mileau of nutrient supply. The N-P-K report takes into account soluble nutrients and those expected to become available due to the healthy functioning of the soil system.  The report is designed to save costs on nutrient fertilization, and to provide suggestions to improving soil health.

Woods End’s “Soil Health Toolbox”

  • Accounts for soil microbial biomass, with a view that this is very nutrient-relevant;
  • Evaluates N + P 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 carbon. (this page updated Jan 29 2016).

Soil Health MINI:

  • A new basic health test may be seen as a companion to common soil nutrient analyses. It adds information about biological and bio-physical traits.  Included are Solvita tests (CO2-Burst, SLAN, Aggregate Stability, Water soluble carbon (WSOC), water soluble-N (organic and inorganic). $30 per sample.

 The Regular Soil Health Test:

  • Formerly called the Premium Test- it includes: nutrients in Haney H3A extract (Ca, Mg, P, K, Na, Fe, Al) plus Solvita CO2, Solvita SLAN and Aggregate Stability. Water soluble carbon (WSOC), water soluble-N (organic and inorganic), nitrate, soil organic matter and pH. $55 per sample through June 1 2016.

What you get:

  • A comprehensive report with a Fertility Score and a Soil Health Score. The standardized Score uses an open source formula. The fertility score shows the expected total available supply (based on expected crops) integrated with the soil quality score.
  • Interpretation Guide: Each customer receives a full interpretation guideline with the report.
  • 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 zipcode on the order, please provide specific GPS or sample zipcode 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) with color coded high-medium-low scales:



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