Soil Health Indicators and Tests

By: Barbara Bellows, Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research; Mike Morris and Colin Mitchell of NCAT
Published November 2020


Recent years have seen an explosion of new soil health tests that measure organic matter decomposition, nutrient cycling, aggregate stability, carbon sequestration—all of which depend on the activity of soil microorganisms. This publication describes several of the most common soil health assessment methods, including total soil organic matter, active organic matter, soil respiration, aggregate stability, and the Haney soil test. We identify benefits and limitations for each method and provide suggestions and resources for conducting these analyses on your farm or ranch.

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