Microscopy Assay

ECOBIOTEST: Soil Food Web Microscope Assay
Sale price£66.00

To optimise plant growth and health in living soil, a deeper understanding of soil chemistry and biology is beneficial. We now offer a range a lab services to help you achieve your goals when growing organically.

Why test?
The techniques used to grow with living soil are evolving. Getting optimum results when reusing soil many times is not easy if all you have in your toolbox is your intuition. Through soil testing we can improve the quality and consistency of our yields, minimise the risk of nutrient disorders and enhance the soil biology.

We can now combine an analytical scientific approach with modern organic living soil growing techniques to help you get the best outcome, and ultimately enable growers to be sustainable and keep reusing your soil over and over.

What tests are available?
Soil Analysis — this provides a full nutrient breakdown of the soil. Two analytical methods are carried out; a strong acid extraction test (Mehlich 3) to provide insight into what’s potentially available in the long term, and a water extraction (saturated paste test) to provide results or what’s immediately available. Using both sets of data is important for living soil, rather than just relying on a water extraction (common in the U.K.).

The turnaround time for the Soil Analysis is typically 5-10 working days. We recommend carrying out a soil analysis 1-2 weeks before you harvest so you have the data to reamend the soil for the following growth cycle. We use Logan Labs in the USA for analysis, they process a huge amount of living soil samples and we have found their service and accuracy the best for our needs. See below about additional postage costs.

Soil Analysis Interpretation — if you are not familiar with soil test data and would like help translating the results, then we can help. When purchasing this service we will provide a written report of your soil status, with advice on what additions and actions you can take to get your soil back on track.

Soil Biology Test — we carry out a full Soil Food Web microscopy assay in house, which consists of a total count of bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes per ml of your soil or compost. For over two years they have been testing samples sent by growers and farmers from across the country to help the dial in their practices. The results of a soil biology test will help provide insight into your management practices, and bespoke compost mixes can be provided to help shift the soil biology into a more favourable range.

The turnaround time for the Soil Biology test is typically 2-3 working days.

For more information about any of these tests please get in touch at info@ecothrive.co.uk.

When to test?
When growing on a small scale in pots as a hobby, soil testing can be a bit out of most growers budget. But for serious growers with a larger volume of soil in pot or beds, having the knowledge of the soils nutrient status, and what amendments are required can help growers avoid the risks of under or over fertilisation and dial in the soil food web activity to achieve the best results possible.

Following our general growing advice, and using an amendment mix like Life-Cycle to re-amend your soil, some growers can go for many cycles, others reach 3 or 4 before result drift. Why? There are so many variables when trying to reuse soil. What minerals are coming in on the water? How often are you top dressing or applying compost? How long is your growing cycle? How are you re-amending? All these factors impact the soil fertility and nutrient balance and will have an impact on your results.

Submitting Samples
Instructions on how to take and submit your samples can be downloaded on these links:

Soil Analysis
Soil Biology Test

For the Soil Analysis there is an additional postage cost, we will contact you for this payment before samples are sent to the lab in the USA. Our postage cost for a small parcel to the USA is £30-£35 but we share this cost over the number of samples we are sending. £35 is the worst case, typically £10-£15 but can be as low as £5 if we group many samples together. If you are not in a rush, we can hold the sample until the cost can be shared.