Everyone can make soil monitoring work in their farming schedule – it’s all about building observation into your normal routine! From making a note of a patch of bare soil while out on a crop walk, to taking your kids for a worm counting expedition – there are plenty of ways to stay on track of your soil testing, so you can glean useful insights from the land.
We’ve created the diagram below to demonstrate the best times to do each test, as well suggesting how often you might do them. This is only to give a rough idea, and your context may vary – so do only use this as a general guide!
The soil pit tests in the diagram above include all tests that require digging:
‘Best’ soil testing frequency options in the diagram above require an increasing time commitment, but also tend to increase the quality of data you get out. However, you can discover useful information from only recording general notes in Soilmentor, or just setting aside a couple of hours to run through some soil tests, and seeing how your results fare in the Soilmentor Regen Platform benchmarking.
The regularity of soil lab testing that makes sense in your context will likely depend on whether your management has changed since your last lab test, or whether you’re keen to dig a little deeper into a problem area. Most of the soil tests we recommend building into your routine only require a spade or a fence post!
The main thing to consider is building a schedule that you feel you can repeat year after year, so start simple. It’s also good to consider repeating your soil health tests at approximately the same time of year, so your results are consistent with the seasons!
Below you will find three tiers of recommendations for when & how often to do the soil pit tests – digging a little deeper into what’s shown above.
Earthworm counts, infiltration rates and Brix tests are very much affected by the weather… Where possible these should be carried out across all sample fields in the same session/morning etc, so results will be comparable between fields as well as within an individual field.
- Do all your chosen soil pit tests for each field on 1 day in Spring & Autumn. Repeat annually at the same time of year.
- Ensure you take photos in the fields, and do further testing as and when you notice problem areas, or have time in the year.
- Brix testing & basal ground cover transects done in fields of interest twice a year – to be benchmarked in the Regen Platform.
- General notes & observations, as well as recording dung quality, sward length & biodiversity monitoring can be done while out on crop walks all year-round!
- Do all your chosen soil pit tests every month during the seasons where you can get a spade in the ground!
- Brix testing & basal ground cover transects can be done in fields of interest every month of the year – to be benchmarked in the Regen Platform, for insights into how to further regenerate the land.
- General observations & photos, as well as recording dung quality, sward length & biodiversity monitoring can be done while out on crop walks all year-round!
For some more seasonal soil testing inspiration – read our post on how to use Soilmentor all year round.
Don’t think you have time to dig holes? Think differently! Read our post here for some tips on building soil testing into your routine.