Woods End Laboratories, manufacturer of laboratory based soil tests, announces the release of the Solvita® Field Test, which enables growers and crop consultants to conduct on-site evaluations of soil biology without the added expense of sending samples to a laboratory.
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 in that 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."

"Basal respiration expresses the total activity of bacteria and fungi living in the soil," Brinton explained, "and this reflects the system's balance of soil organic matter, the primary source of CO2 which diffuses out of soil. With the Solvita® Field Test, growers can accurately monitor this rate and make observations that can affect future organic matter applications and yield." Test results may be used in the online resources at Solvita.com.

How the Field Test is Different from a Lab Test

The test was developed so that growers 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. The results indicate 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.

The Solvita® Field Test includes:

  • Field Version Digital Color Reader (Spectrometer)
  • 25 Solvita® Probes
  • Miniature Digital Balance (to weigh soils)
  • Incubation Jars
  • Interpretation Guide

Growers still wishing to get a complete, professionally integrated view of soil biology as it influences nutrients may obtain Soil Health Test results by using the Soil Solvita map to find the lab nearest you.