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Canadian Soil Testing

Posted by freyja5 8a (BC, Canada) (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 26, 09 at 16:41

Does anyone know if there is somewhere in Canada that does a similar soil test/similar price as the cooperative extensions in the US? I've heard (maybe incorrectly?) that soil tests in the US are around $15 or so. In Canada, I've heard the same kind of test (at private labs) runs around $65 or more, and one lab in AB advertises $300 for a full biological and chemical test (not sure if that's even needed, but I really want to know the amount of OM in my soil).

I'm just not sure what I should be looking for, who I should be asking, etc. Agriculture Canada seems to be more geared to farming and agriculture, and not a little ol' homeowner wondering about their lawn soil conditions.

Any ideas? Thanks.


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RE: Canadian Soil Testing

AgCanada does not do basic soil testing, so I'm told, but a web search should provide information on soil test labs you ould use. A simple set of tests you can do is listed below.
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer you soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.


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