Soil testing parameters
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parameterSimple soil tests Equipment requiredMethodTried/ tested?AccuracyDifficulty rating (1 = easy, 5 = difficult)Expense rating (1 = free, 5 = costly)Related linksAny other notesLinks to design/ user instructionsChallengesFrequency of measurement?Notes in relation to operating instructions fordifferent soil types?
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PH1. Litmus testLitmus paper, colour chart yes12Most plants grow well within soil PH of 6.5 to 7. only once or seasonaly in sensitive conditions (winter/summer, quarternaly)Another source - As a rule, plants grow well at a pH of 6.0
although vegetable gardens do better at a pH of 6.5.
Lime can be applied to adjust the soil pH
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2. vinegar/ baking soda methodVinegar, water, baking soda, a bowl(a) scoop soil into a bowl, (b) Add some vinegar, if it fizzes the soil is alkaline, (c) If it doesn't fizz, start again and mix in some water and baking soda. If it fizzes, the soil is acidic.Determines if the soil is acid/ alkaline, but does not measure the exact PH. 22http://www.buzzle.com/articles/soil-testing-how-to-test-soil-ph.htmlas above
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3. PH test kittest kit available from garden centreyes15as above
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Digital/electrometric digital ph meterTake soil sample, mix sample with water, place probe to digital meter in soil mixture, read meter.15Unless the water is distilled water, it will skew the results. (Tap water tends to be alkaline and rain water acidic.)as above
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Taste-testTongue, soilPlace soil sample on tongue until taste is apparent.Sour soil is acidic, bitter soil is alkalinehttp://www.ediblegeography.com/sweet-and-sour-soils/ http://www.ehow.com/about_6130101_ph-soils.htmlThis testing method has the potential to be dangerous. There are some illnesses that can come from substances in the soil, especially heavily treated soil.
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6. Red cabbage testRed cabbage, distilled water, pot, filter(a) Boil chopped cabbage in water until water is purple, (b) Filter liquid to remove cabbage pulp, (c) Add a sample of soil to a small quantity of cabbage water, (d) colors will range from pink (acid) to green (highly alkaline).Can be fairly accurate if compared to control substances with known pH.32http://www.englishroseforum.com/index.php?topic=190.0
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Type1. If "soil type" is considered here it represents complex description of many soil characteristics together according to pre-defined soil classification system, as such, soil type is more result of soil parameters measurements interpretation than measurement itself.NANANANANANANABased on experience and the morphological and analytical data available for an observed soil profile, any soil science expert can easily classify this information using the WRB or any other classification. NAmobila app which can record soil classification classes as a part of the crowd-sourcing campaings,measurement and interpretation of complex soil characteristics could be discussedonly once
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2. Test soil type by texture of soil in fingersflow chart for id of different soil types
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Texture1. Timing of sedimentationTimer on a phone, water, containerMeasure sedimentation time in a 1:1 suspension of soil and wateronly once
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Moisture 1. visual observation and simple soil testsoil sampleexaminating soil sample by hands: soil sample is squeezed in palm, based on feeling and soil behaviour soil moisture class is identified as dry (not any feeling, not any traces in the palm after the sample was released), nearly moist (cool feeling in the palm while sample is squeezed but not any traces left), moist (cool fealing in the palm and after soil sample was released traces of the water can be observed in the palm), wet (water can be seen dropping out the sample after it was squeezed in the palm) yesrough estimation of the soil moisture (not any exact volume of the soil water can be told)11method as described comes from Slovak national soil survey manual, it is not available on-line, this simple soil test is used during field soil examination as to tell what are the conditions within which other morphological soil parameters were observed.not in particular, may be for a crowd-sourcing web or mobile app it should be better described and/or way of photodocumenting or other documentation could be found; may be simple PTR could be discussed relating soil moisture from this test to plasticity measurement group (find bellow) which could at least very broadly tell the volume of water present in the soilas needed or in regular intervals during the vegetation season or year (daily, weekly, monthly)
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Depth1. visual observationmeasurement belt, camera on a phonesoil depth can be measured in soil profile (photo can be taken as well and then depth measured by SW), depending on local conditions augerings or sticks can be used to measure depth of soil profile to e.g. continuous rock or gravel-rich layers)exact value of the depth to pre-defined boundary in soil from the soil surfaceshould be clearly defined by the purpose what is the depth related to, if it is ecological depth of soil profile (i.e. depth which can hold water and nutrients and plants can take it), depth of the particular soil layer (e.g. topsoil, or humus-rich layer)is there way how to measure "depth" more effectivelly (using simple devices, sensors?), at least in some well defined conditions range?only once
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TemperatureThermometerThermometer (thermocouple/probe thermometer, dial thermometer, in-glass thermometer)Probe the soil as deep as is needed for desired temperature measurementyes12 to 4Depends on the purpose of the temperature measurement. For germination purposes, measure at the soil level the seeds will be planted. For general temperature measurement, probe 6-12" in the ground.Could this be measured with a smart phone?as needed or in regular intervals during the vegetation season or year (daily, weekly, monthly)
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Colour1. Munsell soil colour chartSmart phoneDownload free Android apphttp://www.soilsurvey.org/tutorial/page7.asp!!! could not work in mottled soil samplesonly once
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CaC031. Degree of effervescenceHydrochloric acid, water, appropriate container, measuring implementDrop a 1:3 solution of hydrochloric acid and water on the soil sample and observe the reactiononly once
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Surface/CoverDepending on the observation conditions, the soil surface can be with or without vegetation cover or covered only to some extent. Most agricultural soils can be some parts of year without vegetation cover (e.g. freshly tilled or seeded, shortly after harvest). A non-vegetated soil surface can be exposed in many urbanized areas (e.g. dumps, mining, etc.). In forests, for example, mineral soils can be covered by litter and not visible at all. In some conditions, water can persist on the soil surface for shorter or longer periods during the year. The state of the soil surface can indicate the condition within which the soil observation was done.selecting parameters, adopting/adjusting existing e.g. LC/LU classesNA
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Soil Surface Features1. Visual observationPhoto documentationVarious features observable on mineral soil surfaces such as cracks, stones (boulders), rock outcrops, or salt crusts can give an immediate impression about some important limitations of the soil for specific land uses (e.g. agriculture) without doing any other observations. A list and definitions of different soil surface features are available from existing soil survey manuals (e.g. USDA, FAO) selecting parameters, adopting/adjusting existing e.g. USDA/FAO/other classesNA
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Stone Content1. Visual observationPhoto documentationonly once
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2. Dry or wet sievingsoil sample, (water), 2 mm sieve, scales or containers with some volume measureknown amount (volume, weight) of soil is sieved through sieve, portion of coarse fragments above 2 mm (stones, pebbles) is than measured (volume, weight)yesexactly measures amount of coarse fragments in the soil33 - method is cheap but equipment is nesessary which could be expensive (calibrated 2 mm sieve)stone content is important soil parameter which influence soil water content, soil permeability and workability,more simple and effective way of stone content measurement (e.g. ?SW analyze of the photos taken out of the soil profile?, other?)only once
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Plasticity and Porosity1. visual observation and simple field testsoil sample, water, measure beltafter mixing soil sample with water and making soil plastic, wires are rolled of different diameters, diameter and keeping of the wire's shape after some manipulation is explored afterwardsyesdetermines in rough way the content of soil texture fractions; behaviour of soil with respect to water holding capacity can be roughly estimated even though not exact texture class is known;2 - simple but some training is necessary to secure that soil sample is prepared in the right way1USDA field soil descrition manual: ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/NSSC/Field_Book/FieldBookVer3.pdfsoil plasaticity method as described here well corresponds to soil fraction < 0,01 mm content (CLAY + FINE SILT fr.). Some hydrophysical PTFs and PTRs exists based on the 0.01 mm fr. classification e.g in Slovakia, Czech republic or Bulgaria.callibration of the method against measurements of soil texture and soil retention curve data (could be done in regional or local conditions) - calibration means increasing of the costs as the sampling and lab analyses must be done.only once
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Water Repellency1. Test with watera) Drop water onto dry soil
b) Measure the time required to infiltrate the soil OR "Take an empty coffee can with the bottom removed and push it into the soil until just 3 inches remain above the surface. Fill the can with water, marking the water height, and then time how long it takes for the water to be absorbed into the soil. Repeat this several times until the rate of absorption slows and your times become consistent. Anything slower than 1/2 to 1 inch per hour is an indication of compacted soil."
http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/10-easy-soil-tests?page=0,2Water repellency is the specific way that dry soil reacts with water. Water repellency of soil has large practical importance for surface runoff and soil erosion in arid and semi-arid regions where the soil surface is often dry, without vegetation cover and heavy rains can occur seasonally. The water repellency of the soil can be easily measured by dropping water onto dry soil and measuring the time required for the water to infiltrate the surface. This also affects the type of crop which can be grown in the soil; compacted soils are not condusive for root-crops.only once
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OtherSome other soil properties can be observed and recorded which have some practical importance as well such as the amount of roots, the biological activity of the soil, the presence of some soil structures, etc.NA
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Soil OrganismsSight testSoil sampleCollect soil sample 6" deep and count the number of organisms readily seen (worms, beetles, centepedes, mites, etc)Rough estimation; More organisms indicate healthy, nutrient dense soil. Less indicates less optimal soil.11http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/10-easy-soil-tests?page=0,1once per year
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Soil MaintenanceSelf implementationN/ANRCS identified four principles that help improve soil health.
1. Keep soil covered as much as possible.
2. Use plant diversity to increase diversity in the soil.
3. Keep living roots in the soil as long as possible.
4. Disturb the soil as little as possible.

Keeps healthy soil, easy to use guides and practices1 to 2If started early, cost is same. If practices are newly adopted, can be costly to changehttp://soils.usda.gov/education/facts/http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/home/?cid=STELPRDB1088777
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Water Level DeterminationCore samplePost hole digger, shovel1. Dig hole at 6" increments, 2. Lay out each increment along the ground as it comes out of the digger/core and shake out each increment along the ground in layers, 3. Dig about 3' down to reach parent material, 4. Use the Munsen color chart and/or look at gleying of the soil and at what layerYesFairly accurate, quick way to determine water level3 to 40Gleying will determine the heights at what the water will vary in a growing season. It will also assist in determining what plant to grow based on root needsBefore planting
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Soil test links (yet to be organised within spreadsheet)
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http://www.wikihow.com/Check-Your-Garden's-Soil-Texture
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http://gardenbot.org/howTo/soilMoisture/
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