Public and private USA soil labs are lining up to offer Woods End’s latest protocol: a soil test that simulates the biological CO2-burst following moistening of dry soil. The phenomena of a respiration spike has been observed by  soil scientists to correlate with soil microbial biomass carbon (SMBC), the soil’s living storehouse. The simple, inexpensive test accurately measures the magnitude of the CO2 burst. One application is that it serves to indicate N-release potential. Lab and field trials have shown a high correlation to 7- and 28-day nutrient mineralization. USDA found in a survey of soils that the Solvita CO2 burst was proportional to yields from unfertilized control plots – meaning it accurately represents the soil’s indigenous reserve that is naturally released to crops each year. “The pressing issue today is that most soil labs still ignore the contribution of N that comes from humus, and therefore fertilizer recommendations are invariably excessive – a primary cause of continued water pollution but more importantly a careless use of farmer’s money”.   Land Grant Soil labs that have recognized the value of the procedure and which are now offering the Solvita CO2-Burst test include:

  1. Rutgers University Soil Testing Lab
  2. University of Maine Orono
  3. Washington State University – Prosser
  4. University of Rhode Island
  5. Montana-State University-Northern
  6. University of Delaware (Carvel Research Center)
  7. Auburn University, AL (trials underway)

Private USA labs offering the test include: Brookside (OH), SoilTest Farm Consultants (WA), Spectrum Analytic (OH), AV Labs (WA), Kuo Testing Labs (WA), Western Labs (ID), Ag Resources Consulting (MN), Energy Labs (MN)  GMS Labs (IL), AgVise, (ND), Texas Plant & Soil Lab (TX). Foreign: Creation Innovation Labs (Australia), Quantum Labs (New Zealand).

The CO2-burst test is calibrated for soils in the range of 0 – 5% OM and reads 0 – 120 ppm CO2-C corresponding to a N-mineralization potential of 0 – 120 lbs/a or more.  A film about the new test is found at:  Solvita CO2-Burst