Soil Health Services and Analyses
We consider each soil in the contexts of:
- Its location in the landscape
- The quantity and quality of the entire rooting volume
Please contact us so we can discuss your specific needs: 573-882-3704.
Analyses Currently Available
- Aggregate Stability — Indicates how well water infiltrates soil and how well soil holds water
- Bulk density — Indicates how well roots can penetrate soil and how well soil holds water
- Particle size (by pipette) — Determines proportions of sand, silt and clay within soil
- Active Carbon — Indicates organic carbon actively feeding microbes and cycling nutrients
- Total Organic Carbon — Determines sum of all soil organic carbon, active and well humified
- Potentially Mineralizable Nitrogen — Indicates nitrogen mineralized during growing season
- Total Nitrogen — Determines total amount of soil nitrogen
- pH — Determines level of acidity or alakinity. Indicates availability of soil nutrients
- Bray 1 Phosphorous — Indicates amount of soil phosphorus available to plants
- Cation exchange capacity (CEC) is a measure of a soil’s capacity to hold cations. Soil components such as clays and organic matter hold charges. Their predominate charge is negative, so they attract and hold positively charged ions (cations) such as ammonium (NH4+), hydrogen (H+), and calcium (Ca2+)—like magnets attract and hold some metals. In general, far fewer soil components have a positive charge to hold negative ions (anions) such as nitrate NO3-, so anions tend to be repelled.The soil’s charged components are called its exchange complex. You could think the exchange complex as a parking garage. The CEC would the space available for parking. The cations would be the “cars” parking on the exchange complex. Just as the cars can park temporarily, the ions can come and go with concentration changes in the soil solution and with plant uptake.
- Effective Cation Exchange Capacity — Measures cations held by soil at current pH.Cation exchange capacity tends to increases with pH. If an acid soil is limed to neutralize (increase) its pH, its CEC will likely increase. To expand our parking garage analogy, more parking spaces will be made available. Often CEC is measured with the soil pH buffered at 7 (neutral) to compare soils’ CECs without the influence of a differing pH. As a measure of soil health, ECEC will be more sensitive to changes or differences in soil properties and will represent more accurately the soils as they are in the field.
- Exchangeable Bases — Estimates exchangeable calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium.Exchangeable Bases are cations such as calcium (Ca2+) magnesium (Mg2+), potassium (K+), sodium (Na+) that dominate the exchange complex in neutral or basic soil. Other cations in the soil include hydrogen (H+) and aluminum (Al3+) ions that dominate very acid soils.
- Base Saturation — Percent bases of exchangeable cations (including hydrogen and aluminum).Base saturation refers to the percent of the exchange complex held by exchangeable bases. From the parking garage analogy, it would be similar to the percentage of the total parking capacity currently held by sedans.
- Exchangeable Aluminum — Determines soil exchangeable Al, appropriate with pH < 5.0.Exchangeable aluminum refers to the aluminum cations (Al3+) attracted and held by the exchange complex. As soil pH decreases, the amount of exchangeable aluminum increases. In soils with pH below 5.0, the aluminum cations may reach concentrations (in the soil solution) toxic to many plants.
- Phospholipid fatty acid (PFLA) Analysis — Indicates amount of microbial biomass and proportions of microbial types such as mycorrhizal fungi, gram positive fungi, gram negative fungi, actinomycetes, and saprophytic fungi.