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Add on tests

Soluble Salts

Cost: $10 per sample
Recommended applications: high tunnels, lawns and urban areas, heavily composted areas, home gardens, landscaped areas

  • Electrical conductivity measured on a 1:1 saturated paste extract (Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab test #1880)
  • Guide to interpreting results

Problems with high salt concentrations can occur naturally, but are most prevalent under irrigated agriculture in semi-arid and arid areas. Although this is most commonly encountered in western regions of the U.S., issues are also associated with high tunnels used for season extension in the Northeast. High concentrations of soluble salts in soil have a severe impact on growing crops by limiting the ability of plant roots to take up water; in severe cases, this can cause plants to wilt and die.

Heavy Metal Screening

Cost: $30 per sample
Recommended applications: urban areas, home gardens, playgrounds, brownfields

  • Soil digestion for total heavy metal content (Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab test #2021, EPA Method 3051-6010)
  • Guide to interpreting results

Testing for heavy metals is available for situation where soil contamination is suspected, or as a precautionary measure. Heavy metals accumulate in soils at low levels naturally, but toxic levels can be reached as a result of mining, manufacturing, and industrial activities. Contact with heavy metals is dangerous for humans and animals, but can also have adverse effects on plants and soil organisms. Metals falling under this category include cadmium, chromium, lead, copper, nickel, and zinc. To extract heavy metals, a soil sample is digested using acid; quantification of metals in extracts is then performed using Inductively-Coupled Plasma (ICP) atomic emission spectroscopy.

Bean Root Bioassay

Cost: $15 per sample
Recommended applications: home gardens, vegetables, problem areas

  • Screening examination (bioassay) of green beans root systems after 4 weeks of growth in the soil sample

Root pathogen pressure is a measure of the degree to which sensitive, test-plant roots show symptoms of fungal disease pressure when grown in a soil sample for a set amount of time under controlled conditions. This assessment is qualitative and reports either the absence or presence of symptoms of damage from a variety of root fungal (e.g., Fusarium,Rhizoctonia, and Thielaviopsis) and oomycete (e.g., Pythium) pathogens which can cause major crop retardation or death if not kept in check. The apparent pathogenic pressure is given a rating from 2 to 9, with higher numbers indicating greater levels of pathogen-induced damage.

Hot Water-Soluble Boron

Cost: $15 per sample
Recommended applications: small fruits, vegetables, home gardens

  • Hot water extractable boron test (Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab Test #1860)
  • Guide to interpreting results

Boron is an essential plant micro-nutrient especially important for many fruits, vegetables, and hops. Boron availability is expected to be low in soils with high pH, low organic matter content, low moisture, and limiting nitrogen availability. Hot water soluble boron is extracted from the soil by boiling with 0.125% barium chloride solution. The extract is then filtered and analyzed for Boron concentration using Inductively-Coupled Plasma (ICP) atomic emission spectroscopy.

Potentially Mineralizable Nitrogen

Cost: $29 per sample

Recommended applications:  research, home gardens

  • Potentially Mineralizable Nitrogen (Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab Test #2820)

Potentially mineralizable nitrogen (PMN) provides an estimate of the amount of nitrogen available in the soil for plant uptake. PMN is the portion of the organic nitrogen pool which is most easily decomposed by soil microorganisms and converted into ammonium via mineralization. PMN is generally higher in soils with high accumulations of organic matter and total N, such as those in low lying landscape positions which inhibit aerobic decomposition. Soil PMN is determined by measuring the amount of ammonium produced during a seven day anaerobic incubation at 30 °C and comparing this with the initial, background concentration of ammonium pre-incubation.

All of the soil analyses found in the Packages or the Add-ons above are available from the Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab. Use Cornell Nutrient Analysis Lab Form S

More details of the testing procedures for the Add-on tests can be found in the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health-The Cornell Framework Manual

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