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New diagnostic test connects soil health with higher yields

Feb 04, 2019

VitTellusSM Soil Health provides environmental and economic benefits for farmers


London, Ontario – A newly available soil health test not only tells farmers the state of their soil, it also provides recommendations on what can be done to improve it. And it’s the first soil health test that makes a direct connection between healthy soils and higher yields, providing the potential for better farm profitability.

A&L Canada Laboratories’ VitTellusSM soil health test is the result of eight years of extensive field research by the London, Ontario-based company’s research team. In conjunction with 50 farms they assessed over 400 factors related to soil health and yield and studied the complex relationship between plants and soil microbes. Their research was published in the Journal of Microbiology and Experimentation in 2017.

“Soil is a very complex, diverse and changing environment with physical, chemical and biological characteristics that contribute to its health and quality,” says Dr. Soledad Saldias, A&L’s Research Lab Director. “That’s why, in addition to the traditional chemical profile, VitTellusSM measures the physical and biological balance of the soil, resulting in an indexed score.” 

According to Saldias, the microbe population in a highly-producing field is significantly different than in a low-yielding field. A higher index on the 0 to 60 VitTellusSM scale means there is more microbial-plant balance in the soil, resulting in better nutrient uptake and higher yields. A&L’s research has confirmed a 93% correlation between actual yields and those predicted by VitTellusSM.

“Our approach is always looking for productivity and yield because we want a tool that is practical for farmers and results in a better bottom line while also conserving soil health and providing benefits to the environment,” says A&L Canada Labs founder and CEO Greg Patterson. “That’s why we’ve developed a diagnostic tool that can help farmers make positive changes to their soil management practices while giving them economics benefits too.” 

In addition to the soil health index, the VitTellusSM Soil Health Test also includes Solvita CO2, potential mineralizable nitrogen, reactive carbon and standard fertility results. These are accompanied by crop production recommendations specific to the tested fields, as well as online portal access to reports and live customer support from the A&L agronomy team. 

“Our system is unique because we don’t just give you results, we also interpret them for you and make suggestions for continuous improvement,” says Saldias. 

Norfolk County cash cropper Dan Petker first learned about VitTellusSM when he took some A&L soil fertility classes last year and is pleased with what he’s learned from trying it on his farm. 

“Instead of just chasing nutrient levels, this test gives us an overall health score and a benchmark to work with for the future,” he says. “Our soils are actually healthier than I expected and it showed me that I’m doing the right things to ensure we have well-balanced soils.”

A regular soil test is an excellent way for farmers to start learning about their soils and ensuring their fertilizer investment follows good stewardship principles as you would find in the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Program, suggests Saldias. VitTellusSM provides the next step of deeper understanding and connecting soil health and quality to yield and economic benefit to the farm business. 

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