Sustainable Soil Management are looking to introduce an improved soil test which measures fast cycling soil organic carbon using potassium permanganate (KMnO4), which reacts only with the most active, readily oxidisable forms of soil carbon.
This will provide a better indicator of soil health than the standard ‘Loss on Ignition’ (LOI) test, according to the firm’s Ian Robertson.
The company has been reviewing soil organic matter testing systems in the UK and say there are issues with the standard LOI test, which often indicates higher levels of organic matter that are not reflected in soil and crop performance.
Mr Robertson said: “Within soil organic matter there are different fractions ranging from the fast cycling organic matter to the longer lasting humus. The fast cycling organic matter tends to be the more important fraction for soil health, however this component is not measured in current testing systems.”