Our Services

Microbial Assessments

Microbial assessments on Soil, Compost and Soil Inoculums

Soil Foodweb New Zealand has a unique ‘direct count’ system of assessing soils biological components.

Our recommendation is that you test your soils microbial balances on an annual basis as you would do for your soils’ mineral content. If there are concerns regarding production or soil condition during the year it may be necessary to conduct several microbial assessments over the growing period. This will permit you to take remedial action if required. There are many options, so contact the lab to find out what is suitable for your situation.

The results from the microbial assessments will enable the farmer to:

  1. Assess their soils’ starting point prior to embarking on the method of biological farming
  2. Determine what foods or inoculums are required to maintain or correct the microbial balances.
  3. Ascertain just how effective their biological inputs have been over the past year.
  4. Help them calculate what impact their grazing rotation is having on the soils condition.
  5. Ascertain what damage has been caused by pest and disease treatment – especially important in grape and pip and stone fruit production.
microbial assessments to ascertain soil requirements

As soon as the tests enter our system you will receive a confirmation by email supplying you with the Soil Foodweb sample number for your samples and letting you know that you should have the results back within 8 working days.

The microbial assessments report is a 1-2 page document with comprehensive description of what is happening with each assay. You are also invited to phone the lab for a complimentary consultation/interpretation.

These results can indicate your total levels of bacteria and fungi; the percentage of these organisms that are working and doing the job, and if this is sufficient for the season; the diversity of fungi and if it is generally beneficial; nutrient cycling capabilities, whether or not the soil is anaerobic due to compaction etc; supply information on mycorrhizal colonisation in the roots; fungal-bacterial ratios; trends for the coming months, ie more bacterial or more fungal.


How to take samples and send to the lab

This exercise is as easy as taking samples for mineral assessment.


Choose your sampling area as you would for taking samples for minerals. Different soil types or topography may necessitate more than one test ie river flats will be different to hill sides or tops probably both soil types and/or plant growth.

Take around 20 plugs (70mm – 120mm deep) from your designated area ensuring you have a good representation of that area. Keep away from cow pats etc. This should amount to about two handfuls. Place in a strong plastic bag and label clearly.

Repeat the process for each area you require a test from.


Thermal and Vermicast:

Take handfuls from assorted areas all over compost pile ie top, bottom, middle, inside and outside and place in a bucket. Mix well then take two large handfuls and place in a strong plastic bag as described for soil and mark clearly with sample number.

Download a Compost Submission Form. Complete and send the sample(s) by overnight courier to Soil Foodweb NZ.

Include your address and select one of the 2 assay package options – prices are noted on the form.

Mycorrhizal Assessments

For specific tree or vine crops such as avocado, pip and stone, kiwifruit and grape, care needs to be taken to extract the roots for mycorrhizal assessment. Dig down until you find the very fine roots, the paler the better, and gently tease out enough roots to fit across the palm of your hand. These can be carefully placed on top of the soil in the bag prior to sealing. NOTE: Brassica crops are not hosts of Mycorrhiza.

Download the Soil Submission Form. Complete and send with the sample(s) by overnight courier to Soil Foodweb NZ.

Include your address and select one of the 2 assay package options – prices are noted on the form.  If you have any further questions or instructions, please phone the lab.

Total Foodweb Package

6 Assays includes: Active and Total Bacteria and Fungi, plus Protozoa and Mycorrhiza.


 Bacterial and Fungal Package

4 Assays includes: Active and Total Bacteria and Fungi only.

“Awesome Service! Thank you very much for giving so freely of your time and expertise. You have helped us immensely. We knew we were missing something and you have helped us plug that hole. Much appreciated.”

Clint & Desrae


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Soil Foodweb New Zealand are soil rehabilitation specialists working with the New Zealand biological farming industry since 2003.