Soil Testing and Product Advice

Soil Testing Soil Analysis Interpretation Product Selection
Input Products Soil Test Application Types of Testing




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AgriSolutions can claim over 19 years of “hands-on” experience with Soil
Analysis and Product Advice.  In recent times not one laboratory or product supplier has been given exclusivity in the programs developed for clients.  This is because it is recognised that each farm and grower has differing levels of understanding, priority, budget and degrees of expectations.  Just as a finance or insurance broker finds the best product match for its clients AgriSolutions has the expertise to advise on the most appropriate package using information gathering methods such as soil analysis and direct field observation and then product application advice.

The independent laboratories used by AgriSolutions can provide timely and specific data depending upon client needs.  The analysis can be a simple chemistry report, a more complex complete report including basic biology, or a world leading biological assay enabling a comprehensive program to be formulated.  Which is used depends entirely upon the client’s expectations and level of understanding.  Testing for heavy metals and chemical contaminants can also be arranged when there is concern that residuals may be present in the soil.  This is particularly necessary when embarking on organic conversion where the certifying agency requires testing to ascertain the status of the chemical legacy of previous farming practices.

Recommendations and programs are written to match client needs and can be used to extend the level of knowledge and understanding or simply consolidate what is already known.  The most important consideration is that the gathered information is timely, useful and relevant, to enable a practical management plan to be established.

AgriSolutions can arrange or perform the testing dependent upon the client’s requirements.


An area that raises considerable debate is the basis for and then the interpretation of soil analyses.  Just as a doctor would methodically diagnose your condition by checking various parameters such as heart beat, skin condition, eyes, posture, movement and mental awareness then ordering appropriate tests of blood, urine, hair samples, etc on your visit, so too is the soil’s health and production capacity assessed when we take a site visit, record observations and take samples.

The grower’s production system expectations will determine what soil data is needed ... budget, usefulness and timeliness.

The grower’s production system expectations largely determines the soil data and information gathering requirements at the site and the extent to which the history is compiled – much the same way as a doctor would assess your health and capacity to perform at the required level.  Production system outcomes will greatly influence the type(s), extent and number of tests over a given area and the time taken on gathering data.  A high value crop such as vegetables can afford more detailed analysis whereas broad acres with its lower returns would be more confined by budget – even though the detail would be equally valuable.

Argument takes place all too often on the methods of analysis and their applicability to the conditions under test.  For example, in southern Australia’s acid soils, the convention is to measure available soil phosphorus (P) with an Olsen P test but this method is actually designed for accuracy in alkaline soils!

Other soil analysis methods and their basis have evolved that bring into question their relevance to the grower.  For the last 60 years the fertiliser industry has used chemical science to try to emulate in the laboratory the process by which the plant takes up nutrients for optimum growth.  The weak dissolving acids and extraction methods are supposed to mimick plant-available soil chemistry, yet, we know that the interaction between soil and plants is far more complex.

A soil’s total, exchangeable and available Nutrients PLUS its Physical condition PLUS Key biology must be measured and managed for the best results.   It is important to realise that available nutrients can change significantly in soil with changes in moisture and temperature and most dynamically soil organisms.  The equivalent in the body would be the nutrients in the blood but we know there are many more stored in organs, tissue and bone which are exchangeable but are locked up.  (Isn’t it amazing that your doctor checks you out for exactly the same parameters by doing blood tests, bone density scans and biopsies?!)

On the basis of the above it is obvious that where economically feasible, the total soil nutrient levels are tested by the laboratory, so that an assessment of all the soil nutrient reserves is made before a fertiliser buying decision is made.  Far too often a simple biological stimulus is all that is required to release these nutrients into a plant-available form that then means no brought in fertiliser is needed!  This is not good for the fertiliser industry but certainly much better for the farm enterprise and the ongoing health of the soil.

A thorough biological assay, though more expensive, is the next logical test to be taken where crop values warrant land production.  This can be taken through two streams of analysis – plate count culturing or direct microscopy – with each having their merits and shortcomings.  If detailed accuracy is required direct microscopy is advised, whereas if only functional biological group is sought, the plate culturing method will do.


Selection from a huge range of products both “chemical” and “natural” is made dependent upon a number of criteria.  The most important of these is not necessarily price but the effect that the product (input) has on the overall growing system . For example, a soil test may show up a need for potash and sulphur (quite common), but in conventional circles muriate of potash is used because it is cheap and the sulphur requirement is often ignored.  Muriate of Potash, being potassium chloride, adds no sulphur but has a high salting index and is VERY water soluble.  Being of a chloride base it is VERY destructive to soil life.  When it is realised that soil life is the key to a truly fertile and resilient soil resource that is capable of accommodating environmental extremes you would have to ask why it is allowed for muriate of potash to be used at all in agriculture!  The input to be sensibly used in this case is Sulphate of Potash even though it is somewhat more expensive.  It remains more stable in the soil, is much reduced in its salting effect, contributes sulphur to the soil and is far less harmful to the soil organisms.  Another good source of natural potash is kelp or seaweed.  Not only does it provide a good level of potash, but it also acts as a plant root growth stimulant, is a source of about 60 trace elements and minerals, a mild anti-fungal and a wonderful food for soil microbes.  With so many benefits it is a wonder that not more farmers use seaweed and kelp in their growing system.  Other inputs considered favourable in multiple ways are small amounts of fish fertiliser, humic acid, lime, dolomite, gypsum, rock minerals, compost and compost teas.

Each of these will have a beneficial effect on the soil nutrient profile, the soil structure and/or the soil biology which in turn means better nutrition from the soil up.  It is important to point out that some of the processed products are better than others – the same as wines made from a single source of grapes can be world class or duds alike.  It is AgriSolutions experience and knowledge about the limitations of each product in its storage, mixing, application and result that the grower can rely on when making this purchasing decision.


A diverse range of input products can be sourced through AgriSolutions to fit most purposes.  Our extensive experience will guide you to the most appropriate material(s) to meet your needs.

Products can vary as do suppliers.  Our experience and testing has shown that some products from reputable manufacturers are excellent whilst others are less than adequate.  Operating our own dairy and free-range pig farm we know which products are good value for money and which give the best short– and long-term results.

The liquid products come in as little as 1 litre to 5 litres, 20 litres, 200 litres and 1000 litres, with bulk quantities possible.

Solid materials range from 20kg, 25kg to 1 tonne bulka bags and bulk.  Please state your requirements so we can best serve your needs.

Products include:

Liquid: Seaweed/Kelp, fish emulsion & hydrolysate, phosphorus enhanced fish emulsion, Apple Cider Vinegar, Cod Liver Oil, Humic and Fulvic Acids, Biological Stimulants – EM, Compost Teas (to order). Hydrogen Peroxide, Organic Molasses, Aloe Vera.

Granular: Mineral Fertiliser Blends (custom made if required – minimum order applies), Australian and Irish Kelp Meal, Water Soluble Seaweed, Lime and Dolomite (suitable for foliar spraying or stock feed supplementation), Minerals – copper sulphate, zinc sulphate, potassium sulphate, sulphur, boron, magnesium sulphate, manganese sulphate, etc, Biological Stimulants (mycorrhizal fungi, trichoderma), Rock Meals (basalt, granite),  Mineral Salt Blocks and edible granular salt, Compost Supply.

Equipment: Compost Turners, Compost Tea Brewers, Microscopes, Digital Cameras, Microscope Consumables Kits, Thermometers, D O (Dissolved Oxygen) Meters, Data Loggers, Refractometers, Penetrometers, pH and Conductivity Meters, Spray Jet Nozzles, Drum Pumps, Reference Books, DVD’s and CD’s.

Types of analysis available:  Click Here to see details

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