Sciencemadness Discussion Board

How is soil analysis exactly performed?

Random - 17-8-2013 at 06:18

from wikia:


Soil testing Soil testing is often performed by commercial labs that offer a variety of tests, targeting groups of compounds and minerals. The advantages associated with local lab is that they are familiar with the chemistry of the soil in the area where the sample was taken. This enables technicians to recommend the tests that are most likely to reveal useful information. Laboratory tests often check for plant nutrients in three categories: Major nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) Secondary nutrients: sulphur, calcium, magnesium Minor nutrients: iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum, chlorine Do-it-yourself kits usually only test for the three "major nutrients," and for soil acidity or pH level. Do-it-yourself kits are often sold at farming cooperatives, university labs, private labs, and some hardware and gardening stores. Electrical meters that measure pH, water content, and sometimes nutrient content of the soil are also available at many hardware stores. Laboratory tests are more accurate than tests with do-it-yourself kits and electrical meters. Here is an example soil sample report from one laboratory. Soil testing is used to facilitate fertilizer composition and dosage selection for land employed in both agricultural and horticultural industries. Prepaid mail-in kits for soil and ground water testing are available to facilitate the packaging and delivery of samples to a laboratory. Similarly, in 2004, laboratories began providing fertilizer recommendations along with the soil composition report. Lab tests are more accurate, though both types are useful. In addition, lab tests frequently include professional interpretation of results and recommendations. Always refer to all proviso statements included in a lab report as they may outline any anomalies, exceptions, and shortcomings in the sampling and/or analytical process/results.

I have read on few agroculture forums that soil test needs to be done before starting anything serious. So I was looking for it and it seems one of more expensive things.

Tests for particle size, total urea nitrogen, toxic heavy metals, potassium, phosphorus etc..

I mean the standard lab soil test. How do they perform it? Is it possible at home setting with accurate results?

On this page I read that ammonium bicarbonate DTPA will chelate everything thats available in soil:


Some laboratories analyze for all 13 mineral nutrients and a dozen non-essential, potentially toxic minerals utilizing the "universal soil extractant" (ammonium bicarbonate DTPA).[2]

Do they actually use this and chelate all ions to bring them into solution, then extract and analyse the aqueous extract of the soil with something?

I would like to hear if there is a procedure that could be done at home.

[Edited on 17-8-2013 by Random]

arsphenamine - 17-8-2013 at 08:29

There is an instructive flow chart at the UMN soil testing laboratory.

violet sin - 17-8-2013 at 10:40

I was just reading up on soil and plant analysis a couple days ago. found an old book at a yard sale a few years back 50 cents.

"Analysis of soils and plants for foresters and horticulturists"
by S. A. Wild and G. K. Voigt.
J. W. Edwards, publishier, Inc.
Ann Arbor, Michigan 1955.;view=1u...

may be useful for ya. tells how to do nutrient testing, and describes the procedures and chems required. for water, soil and plant mater testing. hope it helps
-Violet Sin-

Random - 17-8-2013 at 15:17

Thanks a lot guys, I'll check those links out. Seems exactly what I have been looking for.