Acid-extractable Phosphorus (9G1)

This test is often referred to as BSES-P. Soil extracts are obtained by shaking milled air-dry soil at a ratio of 1:200 (w/v) with 0.005M sulfuric acid for 16 h. Method 9G1 codes the manual analytical finish of Truog and Meyer, with absorbance at 660 nm. Method 9G2 codes automated analytical finishes (continuous segmented flow and flow injection analysis) based on molybdenum-blue and a preferred absorbance of 882 nm. The methods specify reporting results as mg P/kg on an air-dry basis.

Air dry moisture content (2A1)

This method is required to adjust soil chemical results based on air-dry samples to an oven-dry (105oC)
basis. When the air-dry moisture content (M%) is known, the correction from air-dry
to oven-dry is as follows:


            Oven-dry result  =   [Air-dry result  x  (100+ M%)]/100


CaCl2 extractable B - colorimetric (12C1)

The soil is extracted with boiling 0.01M Cacl2 solution at a 1:2 soil:solution ratio for 10 mins.  It is then quickly filtered to avoid any re-fixation of the solubilised B.  The extract is then analysed colorimetrically for B using Azomethine-H.


Bicarbonate Extractable Phosphorus - Colwell (9B1)

This popular Australian P test on milled air-dry sample is suitable for acidic, neutral and alkaline soils. The extractant is freshly prepared 0.5M sodium bicarbonate @ pH 8.5. The wide soil/extractant ratio of 1:100 and an extended shaking time of 16 h favours readily available and more slowly available forms of soil P, while suppressing the solubility of basic calcium phosphates often found in neutral and alkaline soils. Method 9B1 describes a manual, molybdenum-blue colorimetric procedure with a preferred absorbance at 882 nm, whereas Method 9B2 refers to the same initial soil extraction, followed by an equivalent automated molybdenum-blue colorimetric finish (continuous segmented flow or flow injection analysis). The methods specify reporting results as mg P/kg on an air-dry basis.


Electrical conductivity (EC) of 1:5 soil/water extract (3A1)

This test on milled air-dry sample at a soil/water ratio of 1:5 for 1 h is suitable for use on all soils, irrespective of whether acidic or alkaline. It usually underestimates the soluble salt status of soils containing natural or added gypsum, particularly if ³ 1% of gypsum is present. Such soils would have an EC of about 2 dS/m. Soil EC x 0.336 (Method 3B1) approximates percent total soluble salts, while approximate soil ionic strength (Method 3C1) at 0.1 bar (I0.1) can be calculated as follows: I0.1 = [0.0446*EC1:5 – 0.000173], where I0.1 has units of mM, and EC1:5 has units of dS/m @ 25oC.


Exchangeable Acidity (15G1)


Exchange acidity (hydrogen and aluminium) by 1M potassium chloride

This is a preferred method for estimating the acidic cation status of acidic sub-tropical and tropical soils.



Exchangeable Bases - Ammonium Acetate (15D3)


Exchangeable bases - 1M ammonium acetate at pH 7.0.


This rapid method for exchangeable cations in non-saline acidic through to slightly alkaline soils has no pre-treatment for soluble salts. It should yield similar data to those of method 15A1, except it can overestimate exchangeable Ca in soils containing calcium carbonate.


DTPA Trace Elements (12A1)

Soils are extracted with 0.005M DTPA, at a 1:2 soil:solution ratio, and shaken for 2 hr at 25oC.  Analytical finish is either ICP-AES or Flame AAS.


Organic carbon - W & B (6A1)

This measure of soil organic carbon (OCW&B; expressed as %C) usually yields a lower figure than the true total organic carbon value. The method uses finely-milled air-dry sample. It involves wet oxidation by a dichromate-sulphuric acid mixture and relies only on heat of reaction. Soil weight should take account of the expected concentration of OC, and it is expected that allowance will be made for positive soluble Cl‑ interference in soils containing >0.5% Cl. The method specifies reporting on an oven-dry (105oC) basis. Nowadays this method is less preferred than 6B methods.


PBI - Unadjusted (9I4A)

This index of soil P sorption embraces adsorption as well as precipitation reactions. Equilibrated soil extracts are obtained by shaking milled air-dry soil continuously for 17 h at a ratio of 1:10 (w/v) with a P equilibrating solution initially containing the equivalent of 1000 mg P/kg in 0.01M CaCl2. The residual P in the extract is determined using the Murphy and Riley colorimetric finish.  In other related methods (9I2a, 9I3a) the PBI value is modified to allow for the soil fertility level.  In this method, there is nosuch adjustment. The methods specify reporting results on an air-dry basis.


pH of 1:5 soil/water suspension (4A1)

This test on milled air-dry sample involves mechanical shaking with deionised water in a closed system for 1 h at a soil/water ratio of 1:5 prior to pH measurement using calibrated electrodes, while stirring the soil/water suspension. The method is suitable for use on all soils, irrespective of whether acidic or alkaline. Values may be lower than expected on recently fertilised soils due to a temporary increase in soil solution ionic strength.

Total organic carbon - high frequency induction furnace, volumetric (6B2)

This method for total soil OC involves production, purification and measurement of CO2 evolved when soil carbon is ignited in a stream of O2. Because all C compounds are converted to CO2, the C from carbonates, charcoal, undecomposed wood, etc, will be included, as no soil pre-treatment is specified. In the volumetric sub-method 6B2a, concentrated KOH solution is used to absorb the CO2 released. The difference between the original volume of gas in the burette and the volume produced after ignition equals the volume of CO2 evolved from the sample, after correction for gas temperature and pressure. Sub-method 6B2b is similar to Method 6B2a, except the CO2 produced by ignition is measured via infrared / thermal conductivity detection. Both 6B2a and 6B2b use finely-milled air-dry sample, with weights varying with expected C concentrations. Surrogate estimates can be obtained by NIR (method 6B4a) or MIR (method 6B4b) reflectance spectroscopy. The methods specify reporting as %C on an oven-dry (105oC) basis.


Total soil N – Dumas high-temperature combustion (7A5)

This method utilises automated and/or microprocessor controlled instrumentation, which mostly is able to measure at least total C, N and S in the same sample. Dumas-N dry oxidation includes all forms of soil N, without the need for lengthy pre-treatments, although results can occasionally differ from those expected in soils with high levels of fixed ammonium-N (lower results) and when soils are organically rich (high results, due to incomplete combustion resulting in the formation of methane rather than CO2). Typically, dry, finely-ground sample is subjected to high-temperature combustion (e.g. 950–1,250oC) in a stream of purified O2. An aliquot of the gases produced by combustion is carried by helium gas to a thermal conductivity cell for measurement of any N2 generated, a process typically taking 3–5 min. A heated copper catalyst reduces NOx to N2. The method specifies reporting results as %N on an oven-dry (105oC) basis.

Chloride - 1:5 soil/water extract (5A1)

Tests for water-soluble chloride (Cl) on milled air-dry sample are suitable for use on all soils. For method 5A1, Cl‑ in clarified 1:5 soil/water extracts is determined by potentiometric titration with AgNO3 in conjunction with an Ag/AgNO3 electrode array. For method 5A2a, Cl‑ in clarified 1:5 soil/water extracts is determined by an automated, continuous flow colorimetric procedure based on the formation — in the presence of ferric ions and free thiocyanate ions — of highly coloured ferric thiocyanate in proportion to the Cl‑ concentration. Method 5A2b is similar, except it pertains to the use of flow injection analysis (FIA). For 5A1 and 5A2 methods, it is assumed there are no chemical interferences of significance. Moreover, Method 5A2a has proven more precise than method 5A1, particularly at soil concentrations <50 mg Cl/kg. Other analytical finish options involve chemically-suppressed ion chromatography (5A3a), single-column electronically suppressed ion chromatography (5A3b), and direct measurement by ICPAES (Method 5A4). The methodology specifies reporting results on an air-dry basis.



Finely divided dry sample.  Dumas combustion.