Soil testing (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Thu Jul 18 23:10:52 EDT 1996

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 1996 15:20:02 EDT
From: Francois Quesnel <FQUESNEL at>
To: sanet-mg at
Subject: Soil testing 

Hello everyone,

      I am a graduate student in soil biology and I have a few 
questions for those of you who are involved in crop consulting in the 
context of sustainable or organic farming.

      It seems to me that the commercial soil testing procedures have 
not evolved past conventional agriculture.  What I mean is that even 
though the role of soil biology in crop production is now being 
recognized, laboratories still only test for P, K, Ca, Mg etc. (at 
least around here).  

      So my questions are:
      Do organic or sustainable farmers and consultants feel the need 
for other types of analysis?  If yes, what kind?

      Are there any commercial labs out there that deal with those 
alternative types of analysis? 

      I do realize that part of what it means to farm sustainably is 
to deal with the complexity of soil-plant relationships and that 
simple solutions like looking up a soil test result in a table to 
decide how much phosphorus to apply are hardly applicable here.

      It seems to me that because of the complexity of the system and 
the lack of analytical tools to better understand it, a lot of the 
decision making process relies on the farmer's or consultant's own 

      This is where I believe there might be room for innovation.  
What do you think?      

Best regards

Francois Quesnel
Department of Land Resource Science
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1

Vox: (519) 824-4120 x8593
Fax: (519) 824-5730
Email: fquesnel at

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