• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Which soil tests?

 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 784
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Not all American labs do international tests and Australian labs are expensive, most don't offer tests for the home gardener.
I think the Logan lab does international tests and I found an Australian lab, but it seems to be much more expensive.
logan
swep
CAn both tests be compared at all?
What would you test for?
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2352
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Soil tests are like cabs in New York City -- there always a cabbie (laboratory) who would love to take you on a tour of all the boroughs to run up the meter, when all you want to do is get to one place (a healthy garden).

Being a Permie, you probably don't want to hear their recommendations, which will be along the lines of "you need x amount of this chemical fertilizer and y amount of this other one". If the test comes back saying you need nitrogen, you know to add some green manure. If it comes back saying the soil is deficient in potassium, then add ashes. If it comes back saying phosphorus is low, you can add bone meal, but beyond that, it just means that soil fungi are more important, because they can help your plants make better use of the phosphorus that is there. But $10 for a boron test is probably worth it. That's because boron has a very small range that is "just right" and you don't want to go from deficient to too much in one step.

There's another reason that Permies really don't need to be spending time and money on soil tests -- because decaying organic matter contains balanced nutrients that used to be healthy living biomass. Since we don't depend on chemical inputs, the soil food web supplies the necessary nutrients for our crops through biological inputs. You would be better off to take your shovelful of soil and spread it out under a magnifier and count all the different kinds of critters in it. If you have earthworms and mites and sowbugs and springtails and millipedes and even those yucky june bug larvae, then you know that your soil is alive and capable of providing nutrients to plants.
 
Angelika Maier
Posts: 784
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are two fractions one saying test test and the other don't test because it changes anyway all the time.
What I don't want is to test every other year only once. On the other hand I think that it might be better to learn the weeds and what soil they indicate.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2352
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Angelika Maier wrote: I think that it might be better to learn the weeds and what soil they indicate.


There you go! Because they are in the business of sampling the whole of the soil and averaging over time.
 
Todd Munson
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Since you mentioned you are a home gardener I think that a one time soil test is a good idea unless you know the history of your land and know that lead, arsenic, etc are not present. Depending on the age of the house and construction methods significant soil contamination can occur from the construction process.
I've heard good things about Logan Labs but not used them.
 
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!