Soil and Plant Testing

Expert Chemical Analysis performs soil and plant testing for physical and chemical characteristics, for agriculture, chemical hazards, or other purposes.

Test methods sources are:

  • Plant, Soil and Water Reference Methods for the Western Region, 1994, R. G. Gavlak, D. A. Horneck, and R. O. Miller. WREP 125 [PSWM]
  • Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis, Martin R. Carter, Editor, 1993, Canadian Society of Soil Science [CSSS]
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Solid Wastes 40 CFR 261 [EPA]
  • Customer specifications:

Soil Characteristics and Composition:

Test
Method
Appearance, Texture Descriptive
Composition [CSSS] 47
Bulk Density [CSSS] 50.21.1
Moisture Content [CSSS] 51
Saturation Paste Testing [PSWM] S-1.00 – S-1.70
Organic Content [CSSS] 44.3, [PSWM] S-9.20

Soil and Plant Chemistry:

Test
Method
pH [PSWM] S–1.10, S-2.10, S–2.20, S–2.11, [EPA] SW 846-9045
Conductivity [PSWM] S–1.20, S–2.30, [EPA] SW 846-9050
Alkalinity (HCO31- and CO32-) [PSWM] S–1.30
Sodium Absorption Ratio [PSWM] S – 1.60
Lime Requirement [PSWM] S–2.50, S–260, S–270, S–280
Total Nitrogen [PSWM] S–8.10 Kjeldahl Nitrogen
Nitrate Nitrogen [PSWM] S–3.10, S–3.30
Ammonium Nitrogen [PSWM] S–3.50 (KCl extract followed by Kjeldahl)
Cation Exchange Capacity [PSWM] S-10.10, S-10.20, [EPA] SW846-9080, 9081
Bio-Available Nutrients Various. See “Mineral Content”, below
Mineral Content See “Mineral Content” Section

Mineral Content of Soils and Plants by ICP-OES and GFAA Spectrometry:

  • Includes metals and nonmetals.
  • Includes the analysis of specialized extractions, designed to represent what is available to, or from, plants (also called Bio-Available). Extraction methods include DTPA, Mehlich 1 and 3, Ammonium Acetate, Morgan, and mild acid leaching, as specified in methods.
  • Also includes “total” digestion methods, representing the total amount of the element present that is acid soluble under extreme digestion conditions, for full analysis.
  • In addition to the elements shown, ECA tests for most elements in the Periodic Table.

List of Elements and the Periodic Table

1. Common Analysis for Soils and Plants for Agriculture:

Nutrients: Common elements essential for plant growth and health include Calcium (Ca), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg), Phosphorous (P), and Sulfur (S). They are shown in the Periodic Table in TEAL Highlight.

Trace Nutrients: Less common, but still essential elements include Boron (B), Chromium (Cr), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn). They are in Blue in the Periodic Table.

Non-Essential Elements: Commonly found in soils, but not essential to plants, are Sodium (Na), Silicon (Si), Titanium (Ti), Vanadium (V), Cobalt (Co). They are in BLACK on the Periodic Table.

Toxic to Humans: Elements known to be toxic, and known to occur in small amounts in soils, include Lithium (Li), Beryllium (Be), Strontium (Sr), Barium (Ba), Nickel (Ni), Silver (Ag), Cadmium (Cd), Mercury (Hg), Thallium (Tl), Tin (Sn), Lead (Pb), Arsenic (As), Antimony (Sb), Bismuth (Bi), and Selenium (Se). These elements are shown on the Periodic Table in Red Highlight.

Li
Be
B
Na
Mg
Al
Si
P
S
K
Ca
Ti
V
Cr
Mn
Fe
Co
Ni
Cu
Zn
As
Se
Sr
   
Mo
Ag
Cd
Sn
Sb
  
Ba
Hg
Tl
Pb
Bi

2. Full Capacity Element Testing for Soils, Plants and Other Materials

 
EPA Method
Elemental Analysis by ICP-OES
200.7
Elemental Analysis by GFAA
200.9

ICP-OES: Standard Elements for water analysis are in BLUE
ICP-OES: Additional elements available are in RED
GFAA: Elements also analyzed by GFAA are highlighted in TEAL
All Other Methods: Elements are in BLACK

Li
Be
B
C
N
O
F
Na
Mg
Al
Si
P
S
Cl
K
Ca
Sc
Ti
V
Cr
Mn
Fe
Co
Ni
Cu
Zn
Ga
Ge
As
Se
Br
Rb
Sr
Y
Zr
Nb
Mo
Ru
Rh
Pd
Ag
Cd
Ir
Sn
Sb
Te
I
Cs
Ba
La
Hf
Ta
W
Re
Os
Ir
Pt
Au
Hg
Tl
Pb
Bi

Lan:
Ce
Pr
Nd
    
Sm
Eu
Gd
Tb
Dy
Ho
Er
Tm
Yb
Lu
Act:
Th
 
U
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Notes:

  • Materials more radioactive than natural Th and natural U will not be analyzed.
  • Cs and I are difficult to analyze by ICP or GFAA. Alternate methods may be used.