What can you expect from a soil-lab full assessment?
When you send in your sample/s, they are carefully prepared and observed under a compound light microscope. We use the microscope practise of 'shadowing' to help assess the sample. Shadowing helps us count the organisms which would otherwise not be able to be seen.
Dr Elaine Ingham pioneered the soil food web and she discovered that the biology in the soil have a crucial symbiotic relationship with plants. She observed that plants were their healthiest when the levels of biology were at a certain count and ratio. Depending what it is you want to grow, the ratios of bacteria to fungi will differ. The microscope allows us to visibly see all these organisms which will then to tell us the story of what is happening in your soil.
What kind of organisms will be counted and analysed?
Protozoa (Flagellates, Amoebae, Ciliates)
Oomycetes (disease causing fungi)
Bacteria and Fungi Ratios
The ratio of fungus to bacteria can to show us at which successional stage your soil is at. For example, let's say you want to grow kale, brassicas or mustards etc, in this case a higher bacteria to fungi ratio is needed. Perhaps you want to grow grasses or different types of vegetables, if so, then higher fungal ratios would be needed. As we move towards growing shrubs, trees and forests, then even higher fungal ratios are needed. A biological sample report can determine the successional stage of your soil by calculating the Fungus to Bacteria ratio.
What else can we see from your report?
Additional bio information that can be assessed from a F:B ratio result is to let the grower know whether their soil is likely to be Acidic or Alkaline. High ratios of bacteria indicate an alkaline soil, due to bacteria creating alkaline glues. Fungal dominated soils are likely to be acidic, as fungal hypha create acidic glues. The microbes use their glues to stick to roots, plants surfaces and aggregates etc.
Also, high bacteria ratios in a sample will indicate the nitrogen stored is likely to be 'Nitrate' N03. A soil high in fungi is likely to have its nitrogen source stored as 'Ammonium' NH4.
Again using the microscope, we can tell if a soil is aerobic or anaerobic. Seeing or not seeing certain microbes indicate these conditions. For example, seeing a Ciliate protozoa suggests the sample is going anaerobic or has been anaerobic . The more Ciliates seen, then the greater the sample is anaerobic. Anaerobic conditions may have been caused by 'compaction', so we can build a story as to what practices are working or not working for promoting soil health.
There are other organisms that can be seen under the microscope that we call detrimental organisms. These detrimental bacteria organisms indicate very anaerobic conditions, and are very unhealthy for plants, causing all kinds of disease. For example 'spirochetes' and 'vibrio' bacteria.
(Organism examples under the microscope)
The presence or lack of the above organisms and their biomass can tell us so much about your soil in terms of its health and production potentiality.
Click the links below to learn more about how the Soil Food Web can;
What will you receive?
After the analysis has been performed using the microscope, I enter the data into spread sheet that creates a full estimated biological report similar to the example shown on the right. I will also give you an explanation of what the report is telling us, so that you can then amend your soils if need be.
Fungus to bacteria successional chart report
You will also receive a fungus to bacteria successional chart with your result placed on the pictorial diagram to help you see at a glance where your FB ratio stands, allowing you to set future goals
With the full assessment package you will also receive some pictures and videos of your soil sample. This is a great way to connect with your soil and see whats really going on. You can also use the media from your soil samples to promote and showcase your business, whether thats for your website, events or merchandise etc.
Instructions how to collect samples
For full instructions on how to collect and send your samples, and to understand how many samples to send for your needs, please follow the link below.