Soil is a vital component for life on our planet – from planting crops that feed billions to providing solid foundations for building and to being one of the most diverse ecosystems we have.
Managing soil correctly is important and soil testing plays a vital role in identifying elements in soil to ensure that it’s fit for purpose, is correctly disposed of and isn’t posing harm to people or the environment.
Read our 12 facts about soil and soil testing to learn more.
Most soil nutrients naturally occur in soil
Provided the pH is around 6 to 6.5, soil contains various nutrients, including phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and iron. If the pH balance changes, the nutrients found in soil also vary.
Different plants thrive in different acidity levels
pH 6 to 6.5 is considered slightly acidic and this is where many plants, including flowers and vegetables, thrive. Certain plants grow well in soil that is more acidic, such as daffodils, holly, blueberries, potatoes and rhubarb.
All unassessed waste now has to be classified as hazardous
New soil sampling laws came into effect on 30th April 2020 which stated that all unassessed waste had to be classified as hazardous. So there’s no better time to classify waste.
Testing soil is good for the environment
Classifying soil means that it is handled and disposed of correctly, which is good for the environment. Following the soil classification process helps to reduce your carbon footprint as well as reducing costs.
It’s not uncommon to find asbestos in soil
Asbestos is usually something we associate with roofing insulation. However, it’s not uncommon to find it in soil – and this can pose a risk to health. Asbestos may find its way into soil for a number of reasons:
- Demolition of old buildings, with asbestos mixing into the soil
- Not properly managing previously contaminated land
- The nature of previous businesses occupying the land
Asbestos remains virtually unchanged in soil
Asbestos remains virtually unchanged in soil over many years. Just like with roofing materials, the harm in asbestos is when it is disturbed or moved. It’s therefore important to identify it in a soil sample to minimise risk to humans.
A quarter of all known species make their homes in soil
Of all the known species on earth, around a quarter call soil their home. Many of the life in soil can’t be seen to the naked eye but plays an important part in the health of soil.
Soil acts as a natural filter for water
Soil can act as a natural filter for underground water, removing pollutants.
Too many insecticides make soil hazardous
It’s been well documented how pesticides and insecticides can pose a risk to the environment. The use of too many insecticides can in fact make soil hazardous. Some substances found in insecticides are classed as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). If they are found at concentrations of 50mg/kg or below this is classed at hazardous waste. Conducting a POPs test can help to identify the level of POPs.
Poorly managing soil can contribute to climate change
It’s thought that the planet’s soils have lost between 50 to 70% of their original carbon content – releasing into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a big contributor to climate change.
Disposing of soil should be carefully considered
Before sending waste to landfill, it needs to be properly classified to comply with waste disposal regulations, which ensures that sites don’t become contaminated and pose a risk to health. Land which is suspected to be contaminated requires a waste soil classification test.
Topsoil needs to be stored separately from building materials
Standards around topsoil stipulate that it should be stored separately from building materials to avoid contamination. Topsoil has two grades: multipurpose is suitable for most landscaping projects and specific should only be used with professional advice and not for gardening projects.
There you have it – our 12 facts of soil testing. If you have any queries, get in touch and we will be happy to help.