Scientists Evaluate Carbon Dioxide Flush as Indicator of Soil Health

Scientists with USDA Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory worked with the Soil Health Institute to evaluate the carbon dioxide flush as a means of indicating soil health. Researchers identified a need for an inexpensive and reliable test that can provide suitable data for measuring soil health, especially for nitrogen mineralization. The carbon dioxide flux test measures carbon dioxide released inside a jar when dry soil is rewetted. The amount of carbon dioxide released during a one-day incubation indicates the level of microbial activity in the soil. The researchers found that this test indicated most soil physical, chemical, biological, and biochemical properties when farming in semiarid conditions.