Test result

Situation indicated

Possible causes


Low ground cover

Ground plants absent or plant growth is poor

Unsuitable plant type(s), soil compaction, soil erosion, shading, overstocking (animals eating most of the plant residues)


Low variety of soil fauna

Lack of food for fauna, poor soil structure, presence of harmful (agro)chemicals

Sparse litter, low soil organic matter, lack of soil spaces and channels, frequency or intensity of tillage has been excessive, mortality from recent use of insecticides or regular use of cumulative chemical(s) such as copper fungicides


Low earthworm count

pH unfavorable, poor food supply, lack of soil spaces, predators or parasites present, presence of harmful chemical

Soil pH naturally low, sparse litter and/or ground cover (and roots), low organic matter content, loss of topsoil, soil compaction, poor structure, predators (such as flatworms) and parasites (e.g. parasitic flies, mortality from recent use of insecticides or regular use of cumulative chemical(s) such as copper fungicides


Low probe penetrability

Soil is generally hard at the surface only, hard layer at greater depth

Low organic matter content, compacted by traffic or livestock due to overstocking) especially if soil is wet at the time, compacted by heavy vehicles or “hard pan” formed by soil inverting cultivators


Slow water infiltration

High proportion of clay particles and lack of spaces, channels or burrows in soil

Naturally high clay content of soil type, possible loss of topsoil through erosion, soil compaction, poor soil structure, lack of earthworms, surface crusting


Poor root development

Hard soil lacking spaces, poor plant nutrition, root disease or attack

Loss of topsoil, poor soil structure, soil compaction, soil pH not suitable for crop, lack of major or minor nutrients, presence of soil-borne plant pathogens, root-feeding nematodes or root-feeding insects


Poor soil structure

Powdery soil, few crumbs, excessive clods

Lack of soil-binding substances and processes, low soil organic matter content (sparse ground cover), few worms, topsoil loss, soil compaction, “puddling” of wet soil by livestock, excessive cultivation


Low aggregate stability (leading to high slaking of soil aggregates)

Soil particles disperse when wet

Topsoil loss (0 - 10 cm), compaction, low organic matter, excess tillage down to 20 cm, poor mixing of soil by soil animals, acidic soil conditions


Poor leaf color

Unthrifty (poorly-growing) plant

Deficiency or unavailability of one or more essential nutrients (e.g. P, N, K, Ca, etc.), (can be confirmed by soil or leaf analysis), presence of some plant diseases, water logging