Nothing tells us more about the health of a soil than a survey of its microbiology -- what organisms are crawling around in there, and how many? Our soil assessment generates population estimates of the major trophic groups -- bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes. We further identify the types of organisms within these groups, allowing an assessment of successional level and overall soil health.
To get started, check out a sample of our assessment report. You'll receive data, photos, and enough context and explanation to make sense of your numbers. Whether it's composted material, potting mix or samples pulled from the ground, the same assessment applies. Does your material contain enough microbes, of the right types, to allow your plants to thrive? Our report offers the necessary insight.
Pulling a Sample
The first thing you need is a coring tool – a large-size apple corer works well. Always collect samples when soil is moist, preferably when moisture has been present for several days. Clear any surface material from a small patch (a square-inch will do), and insert the corer. Twist and pull up, and you should have a 'core' of two to three inches. Shake it gently into a resealable plastic bag.
Choose a name for the sample (say, “orchard NW corner 1”), and write it:
on the bag with a permanent marker
on the sample submission form (link above)
Before sending your samples, download our order form, fill it out and place it in the box along with payment. To pay by credit card, give us a call at (530) 648-0694.
Follow the instructions below for collecting and packaging samples, and contact us for any questions.
Selecting Sample Locations
To examine biology in the root zone of a particular plant, sample from midway between its stem/trunk and dripline. Pull three cores from around the plant (or grouping of plants), and combine for a single sample.
To survey a broader area (pasture, crop field, garden, etc.) separate the area into zones – based on geography, prevailing conditions, variance in dominant plant type, plant health, etc. – and sample each area.
Shipping Your Samples
Arrange samples gently in a sturdy cardboard box. Add a completed order form with payment (or pay with credit card above), and ship in two days or less to:
Soil Health Services
111 Bank St. #188
Grass Valley, CA 95945
To help ensure prompt processing, alert us with an e-mail before shipping. For any questions, just drop us a line or give us a call.