How healthy is your soil?

The Soil Health Assessment delivers the data you need to measure soil health.

Why use the Soil Health Assessment?

Living soil is an active soil. The Soil Health Assessment (SHA) goes beyond other soil tests and measures the biological, chemical and physical properties of your soil. By combining the latest in soil fertility and soil health into a single test, SHA helps you measure and manage the health of your soil without compromising crop productivity.

Why Ward Laboratories?

Ward Laboratories, Inc. is considered the industry leader in soil health testing. Our lab has been in operation for four decades, and our team of soil scientists and laboratory professionals have countless years of education and experience – making us a trusted source of data and information for producers all around the world.

How will improved soil health help me?

The goal is to produce soil that is alive and working with you in a holistic, regenerative way. Knowing the nutrient balance available to your crop is critical to improving yields and reducing the need for expensive inputs.

How does the Soil Health Assessment work?

The test measures and analyzes these key indicators of soil health:

Biological

 

Soil respiration & water-extractable organic carbon and nitrogen

Soil microbes breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, similar to the way humans do. The SHA test measures how much CO2 your soil is releasing. Higher CO2 levels indicate more microbial activity.

Physical

 

Soil aggregates 

The SHA test includes a modified aggregate stability measurement, which is an indicator of how well soil particles hold together. Improved aggregate stability enhances the soil’s ability to take in water, making this a valuable measurement.  

Chemical

 

Nutrient-appropriate extracts 

When it comes to soil nutrients, it is important to not only know what is in the soil, but also what is usable by the crop. That’s why SHA evaluates nutrients using extractants that are widely accepted, correlated, and specifically calibrated to crop response. 

FAQs

Q. How do I sample?

A. Click here to learn about sampling procedures!

Q. How often should I sample?

A. Sample before a management change is made and then an appropriate amount of time after that change was made. This will vary by management practice and intensity of changes. Sampling pre-plant each year is a good starting point.

Q. When is the best time to take a sample?

A. The ideal soil temperature for sampling is 50 degrees Fahrenheit. In cooler climates, however, the soil temperature may not reach 50 degrees before planting. In that instance, we encourage you to take your sample during the pre-plant phase to aid in management decisions for the upcoming crop. Take samples during mild weather, and avoid sampling during extremes in either temperature or moisture. It’s imperative to stay as consistent as possible from year to year with sample timing and conditions.

Q. How much is this all going to cost?

A. At Ward Laboratories, the SHA test costs just $52.00.

Q. Can I submit a sample from any location?

A. Yes, we receive samples from all over the world! Any samples that are submitted from outside the U.S. or in APHIS regulated areas of the U.S, however, will need an APHIS permit and label. You can obtain the APHIS permit here.

Here’s what you get from us:

  • A complete report of the test results, including your soil’s unique health score. 
  • Cover crop and fertilizer recommendations to improve soil fertility and crop yields.
  • Measurement of available nutrients, microbial activity and aggregate stability to make management decisions that improve your soil health.