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New Edition Of Soil Analysis Bible Released

The cover of the latest edition of Soil Chemical Methods. Image credit - CSIRO.
by Staff Writers
Canberra, Australia (SPX) Nov 30, 2010
A new 'bible' on analysing soils for factors like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and toxic substances, was released in Canberra last night at the Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council Conference.

"It's been almost 20 years since an earlier 'Soil Chemical Methods' book was published in the Australian Soil and Land Survey Handbook series," said lead author, former Principal Scientist with the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QDERM) Dr George Rayment.

The new book, written by George Rayment and David Lyons (also from QDERM) and published by CSIRO Publishing, sets out the detailed procedures for over 200 laboratory and field chemical tests relevant to many of the challenges faced today in land management in Australia and around the world.

"It's a 'recipe book' for soil laboratories and users of the results," Dr Rayment said.

"From helping farmers and farm consultants figure out how best to apply fertiliser to increase productivity and reduce nutrient losses to waterways, to guiding scientists conducting research across the country, the book sets out all that is needed for consistency across the soil testing profession."

According to CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture Flagship scientist Mike Grundy, managing our landscapes has become far more complex over the past 20 years.

"We have always needed standardised approaches to soil chemical analysis because soil is a complex material, the processes for measuring it are complex and there is potential for misinformation," Mr Grundy said.

"Getting the analysis right is far more critical now. For example, accurately measuring carbon in the soil is important for managing greenhouse gas emissions as well as the health of the soil."

The book includes methods that require modern instrumentation and new technologies, plus a wider array of tests for emerging areas such as acid sulfate soils.

CSIRO and the Australian Collaborative Land Evaluation Program have collaborated on compiling and publishing Australian Soil and Land Survey Handbooks for the last 30 years, in this case with major input from soil chemists in Queensland.

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