1. Choose a day when the soil isn’t waterlogged and hasn’t been recently cultivated, and head to your sample block / location you’re interested in testing in the soil.
2. Dig about 15cm into the soil with your spade, and gently break the soil apart. Take a handful of soil and put it in your collection bag to be taken back for testing. Repeat this step wherever you want to take soil samples / for however many samples you have chosen to measure!
3. Back at the office, select three 1cm pieces of soil from each sample location and leave them to dry overnight.
4. The next day, arrange the 3 pieces from one sample location onto the sieve, and fully immerse them in the bowl of water.
5. Set the stopwatch for 1 minute, and observe the pieces of soil over this time frame. Give the soil samples a score from 1-3 using the top of the chart below after 1 minute has passed. The soil may breakdown and remain in the sieve. This is still considered breakdown of the original structure – see the video below if you’d like help scoring!
6. If the pieces scored 0 – 2, record this score in Sectormentor and you can finish your testing at this stage. If the pieces scored 3 (more than 50% of the soil pieces are intact), move on to the next part of the test…
7. Slowly raise the sieve up and down 5 times, so that the surface of water just touches the tops of the soil pieces each time, and score the behaviour of the pieces from 3-8 using the chart below. Record this score in the app and take a photo for future reference!
8. You should now have a Slake score from 0 – 8, with 0 being unstable, and 8 being extremely stable! You may want to repeat this in areas that are under different management in your vineyard to get interesting soil health comparisons…