Soil health testing
What does the soil health test do?
It provides quantifiable measures of soil health for mineral soils (i.e. not for peat or soils with an organic matter content >20%) at the field scale for agricultural use (arable, grassland and horticulture).
What is measured?
The measures include the current routine nutrient and pH assays but incorporate other key soil physical, chemical and biological parameters. The specific tests are: routine nutrients (P, K, Mg, Ca); pH; soil organic matter (as loss on ignition); potentially mineralisable nitrogen; soil physical structure (VESS) and earthworm abundance.
An integrated measure of the condition of your soil allows for informed management to improve the underlying soil properties, rather than simply treating the symptoms evident in the crop. Optimising the physical, chemical and biological conditions (i.e. soil health) maximises crop yield with fewer inputs.
The database enables quantifiable comparison of changes over time (to determine effects of specific management practices for example) or with fields within the same soil type /climatic zone ('how good is my soil' versus 'how good could it be').
You can also visit our Taking soil samples page for further information.
Order your Soil Health Check Kit
The results are collated in a database to enable comparison with equivalent soils and historical changes over time in the same field.
They are presented as a traffic-light system to provide an overview of what is good and what is bad in terms of soil health, along with: the specific test results; the expected and desired ranges for maximum productivity and sustainability; interpretation and advice for soil management based on the test results.
You will be invoiced once the test kit is dispatched.
Visual evaluation of soil structure (VESS) is a straightforward, quick soil test that assesses topsoil in three simple steps. Each assessment should not take more than 20 minutes.
The basic steps are soil removal, soil assessment and soil scoring. You will be given a quality score, which shows if the soil structure needs to be improved to maintain soil health. Scoring and assessment require comparison with the colour chart of differing soil structures and associated soil descriptions.
- full method description for printout
- field scoring sheet (for the whole soil block and individual layers)
- VESS colour chart
- VESS colour chart without text
VESS also appeared in the Royal Society Evidence Synthesis on Soil Structure report to help inform the Government’s upcoming Agriculture Bill.
Taking soil samples
Find out more about taking samples for pest and disease tests, including sampling for clubroot, nematodes and other soil pests.
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