The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

Soil Technical Assistance Program

NOFA/Mass is developing a service to provide farmers, homesteaders, gardeners, and land managers across the state with soil technical assistance. We hope to offer soil test recommendations at an affordable rate in a timely manner to to help those working to address soil balancing.

Our suggestions will be based on the Albrecht principles for soil cation balancing and addressing trace element deficiencies. We will offer holistic management recommendations to help reduce barriers to building soil health across the state. NOFA/Mass also is offering a set of soil carbon proxy tests through our Soil Carbon Program if you are interested in getting a series of these test performed on your land.

Soil TestSoil Test Analysis Pricing
For NOFA/Mass Members:
Soil Consulting rate: $25/test
(Plus $25/hour for additional hours answering site-specific questions.)
 
For Non-Members:
Soil Consulting rate: $45/test 
(Plus $45/hour for additional hours answering site-specific questions.)
 

How to use the NOFA/Mass Soil Technical Assistance Service:

1) Get a soil test
To get our ammendment recommendations, you will need to send us a soil test from Logan Labs.

Each soil testing facility uses different tests and methods to calibrate their equipment, and although there are many excellent testing labs available, we have chosen to focus on one lab as we develop the program to ensure the consistency of our results. Logan Labs’ regular soil test is $25 per test (form here). If you would like to get a reading on trace elements, specifically Mo, Se, Co, and Si, use this form and be sure to check “AEA Base Test” for a discounted rate of $30/test. This is the test we recommend.

Be sure to follow Logan Labs’ guidelines for how to properly take a representative sample of your soil for testing. Avoid taking a soil test during a drought, after direct application of fertilizer, or using rusty tools for sampling - all of which can alter the accuracy of your soil test results. It is important to take the test at a consistent time every year; September is an ideal time for testing.

Water Infiltration2) Contact our Soil Technical Assistance Program Staff 
Choose the Soil Technical Assistance Staff who might be most appropriate for your needs and specific requirements to get a NOFA soil test analysis:

Laura Davis can answer specific questions for farmers and small-scale growers, including information on organic certification requirements as you remineralize, amendment application recommendations and timing for small farms. Reach her at lauradavis@nofamass.org.

Allison Houghton can answer specific questions for gardeners, small-scale growers, and urban farmers interested in remineralizing. She can also address recommendations for soil toxicity concerns. Reach her at ahoughton@nofamass.org.

3) Get Resource Sheets 
As we develop this service we will offer resource sheets on common questions or concerns of participants as a part of this service. We welcome feedback from you on topics that may not yet be covered or areas where you hope to learn more. Our goal is to reduce as many barriers as possible for you as a land manager, farmer, or gardener to build healthy, thriving, nutrient dense soil. With our resource sheets, we hope to include topics such as: where to source amendments (especially micronutrients), tips/suggestions for those who are organically certified, calendar of when to apply amendments, and recommendations for dealing with soil toxicity. These resource lists will continue to evolve as the service develops, and we welcome input from members on how best to tailor this information to your needs.

4) Address Lead or Other Heavy Metal Concerns 
Do you think you might have lead or other heavy metals in your soil? If you haven't tested before for lead and you are growing in an urban or industrial area, please note that you have to specially request lead testing (extra fee required) if you get a soil test from Logan Labs. Alternatively, UMass Amherst does an inexpensive heavy metal test as a part of their regular soil analysis ($15/test). If you go this route, it would be very helpful for us to see both the UMass and Logan Labs test reports as having these two very differents tests give a unique perspective to nutrient availability in your soil.

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