Build your own soil monitoring routine:
Here are some guidelines for what time of year and how frequently to do different soil tests. In the diagram below you can see on the right hand side we have two levels of frequency, Best and Good for each test. Best options require an increasing commitment in terms of total time, but also probably increase the quality of data you get out.
The main part of the diagram shows the 4 key tests to do, and other popular tests, and when it is possible to do each type of test throughout the year e.g you won’t find many earthworms in June because they have hibernated so we advise not to do the test then.
The main thing to consider is to build a schedule that you can repeat year after year, so best to stay simple.
When is a good time to do each soil test and how often should I do them?
It is very important to repeat your soil health measurements year after year at approximately the same time of year (weather dependent)
Below you will find three tiers of recommendations for when and how often to do the tests…basically spells out what is shown above. The tiers require increasing commitment in terms of total time, but also probably increase the quality of data you get out.
Earthworm, infiltration rate and Brix tests are very affected by the weather. Where possible these should be carried-out across all sample fields in the same session/morning etc, so results will be comparable between fields as well as within an individual field.
Do all your chosen tests for each field in 1 day in Spring or Autumn. Repeat annually at the same time of year.
Take photos in the fields and do further sampling as and when you notice problems or have time in the year.
Do all your chosen tests for each field in 1 day in early Spring.
Do all your chosen tests for each field in 1 day in early Autumn.
Take photos and note down any observations of each field at least monthly.
Do Spade tests (VESS, earthworm etc), slake and infiltration for each field 1 day in early Spring.
Take 3 hours around lunch time in early Spring to go out and do Brix readings and pasture analysis on all fields.
Do regular plate-meter or sward stick analysis fortnightly throughout Spring and Summer.
Take 3 hours around lunch time in early Summer to go out and do Brix readings and pasture analysis on all fields.
Do Spade tests (VESS, earthworm etc), slake and infiltration for each field 1 day in early Autumn.
Take photos regularly documenting each field above and below ground.
Set aside a few hours on many different days to do:
-earthworm test in all fields twice a year
-VESS tests in all fields twice a year
-Brix tests in all fields monthly
-Pasture analysis in all fields monthly
-Sward stick/plate meter all fields weekly (Spring/Summer months)
-slake test/infiltration test in all fields twice a year