Responding to growing farmer interest, Woods End Labs is updating its Soil Health test program for the 2016 season.  The former Premium test has been reduced in cost from $75 to $55, and a new MINI soil health test will be added at a cost of $30.

Woods End’s offering of an entirely new type of soil test went from a few hundred farmers to nearly 2,000 farmer samples in the space of one year. One of the big questions is: if you already have a nutrient management program backed by a soil analysis lab, can you get important soil health tests without paying for a full package? The answer is yes.  Other labs with soil health tests charge between $50 and $75, and Cornell which boasts the most complete soil health test has raised the cost of to over $150 ahead of reported plans to license the procedures.

The new “Regular” soil health test combines nutrients and soil biology. The MINI test will show only the additional biology tests to be added into an existing nutrient analysis.


Farmers often observe differences in farm quality sooner than lab tests show it. Woods End wants to close the gap with more holistic methods.

The key to the mini-soil health test is that most growers are already soil testing at some level. As explained by Woods End project manager Rachel Sukeforth: “Many farmers already have nutrient test services they are satisfied with, but they still want to get into the soil biology arena”. The Mini test enables growers to get a suite of biology-oriented tests that are rare in regular soil analysis labs, but common to soil health. Included is the Solvita CO2-Burst test, a foundation for assessing soil microbial activity. Also included is the Solvita Amino-N (SLAN) test, a new procedure that shows the quality of the soil organic matter fraction. New research shows that by adding SLAN, a better estimate of the probability of nitrogen response due to biological functioning is attained.  In addition, the Mini adds the all-important bio-physical test for water stable aggregates, using the Solvita VAST procedure. Not to be outdone, the mini also includes water soluble carbon and water soluble organic-N, measures which reveal the presence of biological processes which are indicators of proper soil functioning. According to Brinton, lab director, if these new tests are added to an existing soil nutrient test program “it combines tradition with leading edge soil health procedures”.

Learn more about the Regular and Mini Soil Health Tests.