Know Your Soils

Know your Soils #1: Meet the bugs!

Know your Soils #1: Meet the bugs! 1200 659 Soilmentor

In our new 12 part Know your Soils series we will share practical tips for monitoring the soil health on your land.  Keep an eye out for our bitesize videos and fact sheets on simple tests you can do yourself on farm.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” 

Get to know the bugs in your soil!

A video from the ‘Learning from the Land’ series created by Catchment Sensitive Farming & Innovation for Agriculture

In this short video, we hear from Matthew Shepherd, Soil Biodiversity Specialist for Natural England, about a test you can do to understand the activity of creatures in the ground and how they indicate and impact the properties of your soil.

List of equipment with links is below!

For those of you keen to try this test it is possible to do at home with the right equipment. This test needs a microscope which we realise is not your average piece of kitchen equipment 🙂 so why not club together with a group of local farmers to share equipment and knowledge? We have definitely found discussing soil tests with other farmers and soil advisors can be super helpful! You can also ask question about the test in the Soil Biodiversity UK group.

For this test you will need:

  • Sieve
  • Bucket of soil
  • White tray
  • Insect collection pooter or make your own with two airtight plastic pots (recycle small food packaging pots), rubber tubing bought from an aquarium /pet shop (two different colours so you know which to suck!), and a bit of mesh/ muslin to go over the end of the sucking tube in the pot to stop the bugs going up and into your mouth (try using a bit of weave from inside a DIY mask).
  • Petri dish with lid
  • Microscope – stereo microscopes are best as you can see a 3D image which isn’t inverted. x20 magnification is good for viewing and identifying soil bugs.
  • Flexible LED light


See our free online soils guide for soil tests you can do at home and find out how our app Soilmentor helps you record & learn how your soil is changing.