An manufacture of soil respiration and amino-nitrogen soil tests, Woods End Laboratories, has announced the release of the Solvita® Field Test. The test allows growers and crop consultants to skip the expense of sending samples to a lab and save time with on-site evaluations of soil biology.
As growers have become more interested in biological soil fertility – more popularly known as “soil health” – measuring soil CO2 respiration in the field has become important as a way to gauge the quality of the soil’s biology. This measurement is also significant for a reason that has been overlooked until recently: It provides a way to track how much CO2 the plants are receiving.
Plants have a large appetite for CO2, particularly mid-summer. They extract CO2 from surrounding air to form basic sugars through photosynthesis. During the most rapid growth, however, CO2 can be a limiting nutrient. This means yields are saturated at lower than potential levels.
“It would take 12 to 38 cubic acres of air to provide enough CO2 for an acre of wheat and corn,” Will Brinton, Ph.D., the inventor of Solvita, explained. “We commonly assume plants just somehow get all this from the air but the fact is much is coming directly from soil due to microbial respiration.”
This test was developed so that growers or crop consultants in the field can obtain results with a few simple steps. The Solvita® Field Test enables the user to put a moist soil sample in a jar, insert a probe, let it set for 24 hours and then check the probe’s color against a color chart or with a digital color reader (handheld spectrometer). The results indicate a CO2 value that shows how many pounds of CO2 per acre the soil microbes are releasing (directly related to crop growth). From this one can estimate how much organic nitrogen and phosphorous are likely to be released from the organic matter in the soil due to microbes “feeding” on it.
A complete, integrated view of soil biology is still available for growers who so desire. Soil samples may be send to Woods End Laboratories or another soil test lab using Solvita products and instructions can be found on the Woods End website.