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Environmental Analysis Laboratory

Agricultural soil and plant testing

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Key contacts

T: (02) 6620 3678
F: (02) 6620 3957
E: eal@scu.edu.au

EAL offers comprehensive testing at competitive prices (pdf) for home, recreational and agricultural applications. Nutrient deficiencies and fertiliser requirements are assessed through routine analysis of agricultural soils, plants and soil additives for chemical and physical parameters. Metals and other contaminant testing is also available. Agricultural soils and plant tissues are analysed and reported on a twice weekly basis with reference to desirable levels for real time management of farming systems.

Adhering to standard sample collection and preservation procedures (pdf) ensures the highest level of accuracy. These procedures are listed in the download section and are targeted at a variety of sample types. A soil sampling guide (pdf) is also available to assist in setting up a sampling regime.

Alternatively, EAL can provide qualified staff to undertake on-site sampling at a base rate of $110 excl. GST. Please contact EAL for more information. For further information about agricultural methods, quoting and reports, please contact the Agricultural Co-ordinator, Kris Saville.

Soil testing

EAL developed an Australian version of the Albrecht/Reams soil test (RA-PACK-01) in 1998; suitable for Australian soil types. It has been refined to include:

  • standard Australian testing for exchangeable cations (Ca, Mg, K, Na, H, Al)
  • plant available micronutrients (Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn, B, Si)
  • phosphorus tests (Bray 1, Bray 2, Colwell)
  • nutrients (Nitrate, Ammonium, Sulfur)
  • 'Reams' dilute Morgan extract for determining soluble nutrients (Ca, Mg, K, P)
  • pH, electrical conductivity, basic colour, basic texture, total LECO carbon and total LECO nitrogen.

An extended suite of tests is also available (RA-PACK-02) to give additional information on nutrients adsorbed to soil particles and organic matter. To obtain this information, not available through traditional testing, the following is undertaken:

  • RA-PACK-01 tests
  • 'Pseudo-totals' extracted with concentrated acids (Ca, Mg, K, Na, S, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn, B, Al, Si, P, Co, Mo and Se).

Soil analysis reports (pdf) are provided with desirable levels, based on soil texture, to assist soil management. EAL can also arrange for an independent soil fertility report to be commissioned at the client's request. A large range of additional soil tests are described in the Full Analytical Services Price List (pdf). Popular additional tests include:

  • labile carbon (SS-SING-018)
  • Phosphorous Buffer Index (SS-SING-037)
  • chloride (SS-SING-038)
  • pH - CaCl2 (SS-SING-066)
  • phosphorous - Olsen (SS-SING-034).

Plant testing

Plant tissue analysis reports (pdf) are provided from a comprehensive chemical analysis of plant tissue (leaf, fruit, roots, bark, sap, etc.) Washing is available to remove foliar sprays and liquid fertilisers (SS-PREP-09). Popular testing suites include:

  • total acid extractable macro and micronutrients (P, K, Ca, Mg, K, Na, Fe, Cu, Zn, Mn, B, Si, Co, and Mo) with total C, N and S testing (PA-PACK-01)
  • nitrate and ammonium levels (PA-PACK-005).

Soil and plant reports

Soil and plant samples are analysed in twice weekly batches. The following table provides reporting days based on when the samples arrive:

Samples arrive:Plant results reported:Soil, solid and liquid fertiliser and basic compost samples reported:
Monday - TuesdayThursday (2-3 working days)Friday (3-4 working days)
Wednesday - FridayFollowing Tuesday (2-4 working days)Following Wednesday (3-5 working days)