Soil Health Indicators

Soil Health Indicators

Soil Health Indicators

I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.

2015 has been designated the International Year of Soils. Soil health has been a main topic at numerous ag industry conferences and the recent Pacific Northwest Oilseed and Direct Seed Conference held in Kennewick was no exception. One popular session during that event was a discussion of soil analysis presented by Jill Clapperton of Rhizoterra. Clapperton was asked by producers attending the conference if there was a particular way that they should be testing soil health.

CLAPPERTON: Your analysis is only as good as the sample you take. So a lot of farmers make the mistake in that they don't sweep off the organic matter before they take a sample. I want you to sweep the surface, because you put that in and most of the soil labs make calculations on soil organic matter and organic carbon and that skews the results and you'll get much higher organic matter, and then their recommendations based on the organic matter component combined with your chemical analysis will be different and you will get a false result.

Clapperton went on to tell the group that counting earthworms is a good soil health indicator.

CLAPPERTON: Earthworms are probably the best indicator that you could use, because they're on the outside of the soil food web and everything inside has to happen before they even really happen. So it means that you actually made all these changes and your soil is much better and then they're there. And really it's really easy; you put the spade in the ground, you flip it over and if you count five or more, you are good. And if you are less than five, you need to do some work.

That's Washington Ag Today.

I'm Lacy Gray with the Ag Information Network of the West.

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