S.O.S - Save our Soil
Earth is not only the planet we live on, but is also another word for soil; a crucial element to life on land and an integral part to a healthy ecosystem. Soil is a naturally occurring mineral derived from bedrock in the ground that has broken down naturally over time. This integral part of the ecosystem has multiple layers called soil horizons. The top horizon is called “O”, the organic soil horizon. This top horizon is created by organic matter from plant and animal litter, this layer harbours the most nutrients and moisture. The "A" horizon consists of organic material and mineral material. Next is the "B" horizon, this layer is rich in minerals (Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sulphur etc.) which can turn the soil a yellow or reddish hue but lacks in organic material. Lastly, the "C" horizon holds the most minerals of all the layers. It is mainly weathered parent material for it is the closest layer to the parent material, also known as bedrock. Every layer of soil is important, not only for plant growth but for filtration of water. Knowing what type of soil you have can help you determine what plants will grow best but also help you determine the movement of water across your property. In turn, the best crop yield can be identified.
Why Soil Sample?
There are many reasons in the environmental field to soil sample. Two of the most common reasons are to monitor soil fertility for crop growth and to test for contaminants in the soil.
Farmers test their soil so they can calculate their crop yield. Knowing what kind of soil you have on your property can help determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies. In doing so, farmers can know ahead of time their weak spots and how much that could affect their crop yield.
Looking for contaminants in the soil is another reason to soil sample. Contamination from spills and people dumping products on properties is quite common. Taking samples and analyzing them can show us why there is poor growth of plants on a property or expose worries for human health impacts and should be remediated.
How to Soil Sample?
Soil sampling by hand can be done with many tools. The two most common tools are the Dutch Auger and the Trowel. The Dutch Auger is the most used item for soil sampling, it is easy to disinfect, easy to maneuver and carry, is a cheaper option and can sample at great depths.
Firstly, making sure the auger is clean and will not cross contaminate a sample is very necessary. This will make sure quality assurance and quality control are taken care of. Next, when on site with the auger choose your sampling areas. Depending on the land or area in question these sampling spots can be far apart or close to each other. Place the sharp, spiral-like end of the auger in the soil and twist until an obstruction stops you or until the entire spiral is no longer visible. Pull your sample out of the ground and empty it into a plastic bag with the correct labeling. The samples will then be taken to a laboratory to be analyzed.