Soil microbes respire carbon in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2). The Solvita Burst test measures this activity by capturing the amount of CO2 released in a 24-hour period. We use the laboratory version of the Solvita Burst test that controls for variations in soil moisture content and temperature. By controlling for these factors, we can compare test results for samples collected at different times or locations.
Soil microbes mineralize nitrogen and other nutrients for use by plants. As microbial activity increases, the nutrients available for crop use also increase. The Solvita Burst results can be used to estimate the amount of nitrogen mineralized during the crop season. Farmers and others can use this information to refine their fertility program.
The Solvita Labile Amino Nitrogen (SLAN) test measures the soil nitrogen associated with the microbial biomass. As the microbial population in your soil grows, the level of amino N tends to increase. This nitrogen pool is distinct from the ammonium and nitrate forms that are typically measured on standard soil nutrient tests.
Soil aggregates are the building blocks of healthy soils. As earthworms and microbes work in the soil, they release biological compounds that bind soil particles into aggregates. Soils with stable aggregate structure have air spaces between the aggregates that improve water holding capacity, reduce compaction and erosion, and allow plant roots to grow deeper. The Solvita Volumetric Aggregate Stability Test (VAST) is a standardized method for measuring this important component of soil health.
Soil health index
We combine the Solvita Burst, SLAN, and VAST values from each soil sample to form a single measure of overall soil health. The values are indexed relative to the outcomes we have seen from a wide range of farm fields, and our soil health index ranks your sample on a 100-point scale. Click here for a sample soil health test report in PDF form.
The Solvita IRTH sensor gathers real-time measurements of CO2 respiration from a soil sample. We can use this tool to study the dynamics of the biological response in the sample over a few hours or several days. For example, you can refer to our recent blog post where we report the microbial response to three different soil treatments, including Chandler Soil.