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Soil Samples

Taking Effective Soil Samples

Learn about taking horse pasture soil samples to accurately identify mineral imbalances in the soil. Soil imbalances affect grass health. 

Grass health and the balance and quality of nutrients it contains will affect horse health. Taking soil samples from your horse pasture will help horse health.

Our horse pasture soil reports allow you the opportunity to test horse pasture soil through soil samples to improve the health of the soil and the grass grown for horses to eat. We calculate what you need to improve the soil safely for horse grazing. We identify your surfeits and your deficiencies, from which we can advise how much of which minerals you need to apply to balance the natural soil chemistry.

We concentrate first on the most important minerals, get these right and others will unlock over time. The most important minerals are calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulphur. Once you balance these major minerals then the soil texture, pH, balance and microbiome will become healthier. You can’t sort all the minerals at once as it takes time to improve the soil. 

Overall, your needs will fall as the soil is balanced and reaches equilibrium. Fertiliser purchases will reduce in later years as the soil becomes re-mineralised more economically by the biota (the living organism of the soil).

This system is based on the Albrecht principles of balancing ratios of minerals in the soil and has been shown to improve and balance nutrient levels significantly.

Sampling the Equine Paddock for Soil Testing

To accurately identify mineral imbalances in the soil, it is important to sample fields on an individual basis. Rather than blood analysis for livestock, amalgamated samples will not provide the best diagnostic tool.

Select representative fields which are important to your horses. It is useful to have a sample of the best and the worst. For example, within the typical grazing fields, there may be a field with palatability problems,  or which causes abscess problems or more sweet itch, weed invasion or a poor level of grass growth

Evaluating Progress

The time interval depends on the soil type and problems. Our soil analysis may also be used to observe trends of improvement in the grass which ultimately benefit horse health.

Taking soil samples

To obtain a representative soil sample acceptable for analysis, please follow the directions below:

  • Different soils (colour/texture/different fertiliser use and quantities/performance) should be sampled separately.
  • Each sample should represent not more than 10 hectares. Larger areas should be subdivided and two or more samples sent.
  • Soil should be taken from average growth spots or from the poorer spots where these are numerous. Avoid spots of very good growth. (Walk in a zigzag pattern).
  • Avoid taking samples near gateways, fence lines, feeders, haystacks, lush growth caused by animal droppings and the bottom of the gullies and areas where water may lie – if this is uncharacteristic.
  • Soils should be taken from at least 20 spots (per sample). At each spot clear the surface of weed growth or pasture etc. to bare the soil without removing any soil. In a cropped paddock take the samples from between the rows of crops or stubble.
  • Take the sample with a stainless steel  or plastic tube sampler. If you don’t have one of these then a stainless steel spade will work to sample.  Using stainless steel is important so you do not contaminate your sample.

Depth of samples

  • 10cm in pasture land

Mixing and sending the sample

Mix the sub-samples thoroughly in a clean plastic bucket and take 200-250g to fill the enclosed plastic bag or a box to the level as indicated (one bag/box per sample). Exclude as much air as possible and seal and label each bag/box.

Complete the input sheet which comes with your sampling kit and include this with your sample.

What to do when you get your results

Our report includes full recommendations for what to apply to your pasture, in what amounts and when.

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