Soil and Plant Testing

TrACEES Soil Node is accredited for a range of tests by ASPAC and has a strong capability in soils and plant testing and offers a range of high throughput services.


TrACEES Soil Node has a strong capability in soil research and testing and offers a range of services including nutrients, stable isotopes, total carbon & nitrogen, total multi-element and more. The laboratory is accredited for a range of tests by ASPAC (Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council).


Soil is the foundation for profitable farming, yet a very complex system involving chemistry, physics and biology which are useful to determine the effects of agricultural practice on soil. A spectrum of topics can include soil morphology, soil physical and chemical properties, clay mineralogy, soil biology & ecology, soil acidity and alkalinity, and the biogeochemical cycles of C, N, and other elements. These studies will help researchers and industry understand soils and examine the major current issues in the management of soils under various land uses in Australia. The dynamic nature of soils through studies of the multi-disciplinary processes is vital in the soil environment, particularly those which impact directly on plant growth. Please visit the University’s current researches in “Soil and the Environment”.

Soil testing

Selected services for various gas, soil, manure and plant samples include:

Sample preparation

Moisture (105oC), soil dry and ball mill grind
Dilution, acid digestion, filtration, encapsulation and weighing

Carbon and Nitrogen

Stable isotopes of 13C and 15N
Total N and C by Dumas combustion
Total C with removal of carbonates
Organic Carbon
NO3/NO2-N and NH4-N in KCl extract
Urea in KCl extract


Extractable P (Olsen or Colwell in bicarbonate extract)
Fluoride extractable P (Bray 1-P)

Elemental and Ion

Exchangeable bases (Ca, Mg, Na, K) in NH4Cl extract
Mehlich 3 multi-element extract (P, Ca, Mg, Na, K, Fe, Cu, Mn, Zn, B, S and Al)
DTPA-extractable Cu, Zn, Mn and Fe
Dithionite extractable Fe and Al
Acid ammonium oxalate extractable Fe and Al
Pyrophosphate extractable Fe and Al
Colwell K (bicarbonate extraction)


Particle size analysis (hexametaphosphate hydrometer method)
pH and electrical conductivity
Greenhouse gas (CH4, CO2, N2O)
15N2, 15N2O in gas


Isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS), Segmented flow analyser (SFA), Total carbon and nitrogen anlayser (TCN) , Inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrophotometer (ICPOES), Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICPMS), greenhouse gas chromatograph (gGC). For more information, please visit our capabilities.

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