Soil Contaminant Testing
What is Soil Contamination?
Chemical contaminants include natural minerals and synthetic compounds that are either non nutritive (i.e. not beneficial) or detrimental to soil life, plants and organisms that consume them.
Chemical contaminants may include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides that remain from prior agricultural use, or pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons or asbestos. Minerals such as Lead, Cadmium and Mercury are also included as these are non-nutritive and can accumulate within plant tissues damaging the health of animals or humans that consume them.
Biological contaminants are living microorganisms who's activities are pathogenic or disease-causing for plant, animals and humans. Biological contaminants are not usually an issue for home gardeners except where there's been a recent flood and raw sewerage and effluent has contaminated flood waters.
Soils are Earth's filtering system. Chemical and biological contaminants are retained very effectively by most soils and will only leach out of soils when the limits of storage capacity are exceeded. All contaminants will over time, degrade, but the soils may not be suitable for food production for quite some time. For this reason concerned growers may wish to consider soil contaminant testing.
How Contaminant Testing Differs?
A standard soil mineral analysis measures the minerals of interest for optimum crop nutrition and soil health. Most of the contaminants of concern are not included in a standard test and a separate test or tests must be requested.
The guidelines for 'safe' levels of contaminants are provided by the laboratory, so there is no requirement for a soil analyst, such as myself, to interpret the raw laboratory data.
"If you're concerned about your soil being contaminated, I encourage you to buy yourself peace of mind & get it tested."
Because you can deal directly with any lab and contaminant safety guidelines are supplied directly by the lab, we do not offer soil contaminant testing packages. I am, however, happy to consult if there's an issue with your soils you'd like to discuss, contaminant or otherwise.
If contamination is a concern for your soil, you may be interested in the ecological contamination management information provided in the free online course 'Flooded to Fertile'.
A One of a Kind Program
If you're concerned about the risk of contaminants in your garden soil you may be interested in taking part in an exciting citizen science program with Macquarie University.
With their motto "Carry On Gardening" their intentions are clear; they want to help assert confidence in suspect soil to help more people grow healthy food. They offer soil metal & metalloid contaminant testing for only $20 per sample and accept soil samples from all Australian States and Territories.
Please note The Gourmet Garden School has no affiliation with this organisation, commercial or otherwise.