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This Bulletin’s main extension report is ‘DIY Soil Health Tests V1’. These are a range of soil health tests that farmers, growers and gardeners can do themselves with minimal equipment and no training. While, none of the tests are new, indeed if you know what you are looking for there is a wealth of information online and in old school sources such as books, however, to our knowledge they have never been put into one publication along with the background info on soil health, squarely written for farmers and growers.
Just like much of the internet, the knowledge is scattered all over the place and called many different things, so if you don’t know what you are looking for you can’t know how to find it. Worse if you don’t even know there are soil tests that farms and growers can do, you would not even know to ask for them! Rumsfeld’s ‘unknown, unknowns’ raises its head again. This report therefore solves that problem by describing all of the soil health tests you can do yourself with links to further information if you want to dig deeper (pun intended).
The idea came from a conversation with Sue Edmonds (who is now retired after a distinguished career working in government, NZ Federated Farmers and as a journalist) on promoting soil health among farmers and growers. And on the basis that you can’t manage what you can’t measure Sue wrote a series of articles for the Farmers Weekly newspaper on DIY soil health tests. The Bragato Research Institute and Zespri in New Zealand liked the idea so much that they sponsored the FFC to create a more detailed booklet on the DIY soil health tests, customised for their growers. This has now been converted into a more general report, that is applicable to all farming and growing systems in temperate climates, not just in New Zealand.
So, what are you waiting for? Go test your soil health.