We are a Soil Food Web certified lab, meaning our methods are quality-controlled, up-to-date, and comparable with the growing network of global Soil Food Web Labs.
A complete soil food web has the ability to make macro- and micronutrients available to plants, for plants to receive nutrients and water from a larger area and retain them through periods of stress, to aerate and mix the soil, to decompose and produce organic matter, to fight pests, and more.
Microbiology reports are an excellent way to understand the biological capacity of your soil. Samples should be taken when ground temperature is above 10C or air temperature above 15C on average. For a well-rounded understanding of your soil, or new soil amendment programs, we recommend at least three samples per year. For organic soil practices, we recommend a multi-year study.
You can also use microbiology reports to assess the quality of compost and compost extract/teas.
MICROBIOLOGY REPORTS – COLLECTION AND SHIPPING INSTRUCTIONS
Please only send samples so they are received Tuesday through Thursday. They will be interpreted on Fridays and results will be emailed to you the following week. Please let us know ahead of time if you are sending samples, and send no more than three at a time, unless previously discussed. Read the Detailed Sampling and Shipping Instructions for more information.
For smaller areas and single trees, collect 4 – 5 subsamples per sample bag.
For larger areas, collect up to 20 subsamples per sample bag.
For liquids, mix container and fill a water bottle approximately 1/4 full.
1 Sample bag (made up of composite homogenous subsamples) = 1 report. Number of sample bags depends on the homogeneity of your study area and what exactly you want to measure/understand.
Please contact us for complementary consultation regarding your Study Design and your custom quote.
1. Gather your materials. You will need
plastic sandwich bags,
a permeant marker,
an apple corer or hand trowel,
Use clean hands or gloves when handling sampling materials.
2. Clear the surface of any debris including grass and leaf litter.
3. Insert the corer/trowel 10 to 12 cm (4 to 5 inches) deep, and scoop out an area that matches the dimensions of the apple corer.
4. Place this subsample in the sandwich bag and label on the outside of the bag with
a descriptive sample name (eg. Garden Bed #1),
your name, and
5. Repeat for a total of 4 – 5 randomly selected subsamples within the area of interest and combine in to the same bag for a single sample.
6. Repeat this procedure if you're interested in multiple samples (reports), as determined by your Study Design.
Take the sample(s) on the same day you are able to ship them. Leave the sandwich bag open a few inches and do not squeeze all the air out. Find a suitable sized box and sit sample bags vertically inside. You may want to fill any extra space with loose packaging to ensure there isn’t any tipping and spilling while in transport. No bag should be more than half full.
Print and fill out the Microscope Analysis Submission Form and include it in the box. Seal the box, take it to your preferred courier, and opt for same or next-day shipping to:
4160 Concession 7
Please contact us for a quote, and to let us know when you are sending samples.
Payment by E-transfer (firstname.lastname@example.org) or cheque (Colleen Dempster) upon sending samples.
Bacteria consume organic matter and hold it in their bodies (thus storing carbon in the soil). They are big contributors of nitrogen to plant roots, and can even "fix" nitrogen from the atmosphere. In disturbed soils, bacteria are the first organisms to colonize.
Fungal to Bacterial Ratio (F:B)
The F:B ratio should match the successional stage of the plant(s) you are trying to grow. Generally, grasses require more bacteria (F:B < 1) and trees require more fungi (F:B > 1). A coniferous forest can have a F:B of 100 - 1000! But it takes time and care to grow fungi, and so most urban soils have very low F:B ratios.
Nematodes are differentiated by their mouth parts. Bacterial feeders are the most common, because soil is usually bacteria-dominated. The other functional groups are fungal feeders, omnivores, predators, and root feeders. It is especially important to identify root feeders, as they can result in mass crop loss. Predators eat root-feeders!
Fungi and bacteria are primary consumers in the soil food web. While bacteria make microaggregates, fungi make macroaggregates in the soil. Aggregates hold water and oxygen, and are needed for healthy plants. Fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, especially woody plants, which help plants obtain essential nutrients.
Protists are important consumers of bacteria and fungi. They are also important food sources for nematodes and microarthropods, and help cycle nutrients. The three main types of protists found in soils are flagellates, amoeba, and ciliates. Flagellates and amoeba are beneficial; ciliates let you know if your soils are going anaerobic.
We provide a basic analysis and comparison of your data to the recommended ranges for what you are trying to grow.
For an extra fee, we will include photos, a more in-depth interpretation and consult with you to help you further understand your report and improve your soils/bioamendments.