Sustainable Soil Management, HL Hutchinson Ltd, Weasenham Lane, Wisbech, PE13 2RN, 07970 286420

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Developed from the original Albrecht® Soil testing methods, but adjusted to suit European conditions. Taking Albrecht® way beyond just ratios.

SSM Comprehensive Soil Sample

The Albrecht® soil analysis system is used in the UK and around the world as a method for measuring the true balance of the soils nutrients. SSM has developed this further by not only looking at the balancing of soils chemistry, but also linking it to the Chemical, Physical and Biological aspects of the soil. Rather than basing soil health and productivity recommendations on simply a few extracted elements.

P, K, Mg, and pH (These can be used for basic fertiliser recommendations)

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The SSM European Cation system actually measures and responds to the complete nature of soil's elements - with the addition of CEC, calcium, sodium, Sulphur, full trace element suites, organic matter and the total amounts of nutrients a soil may hold.

This system measures not only the amount of a nutrient available for the crop to utilise, but also the total nutrient reserves in the soil that may not be readily available to the plant. Deducing how these elements react with each other and how they affect the biological and physical nature of the soil is a key part of the SSM European Cation system.

It can be hard to grow a productive and profitable crop without the full knowledge of the soil’s properties to guide everyday decisions. Knowing the full picture of the soil allows for better informed decisions, more timely cultivations, carbon building and improved nutrient use efficiency. This all results in a much better opportunity for more profitable crops and livestock.

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Undertaking a complete SSM European Cation soil sample ensures you have the required information to be able to understand and guide the soil inputs to improve or maintain a soil for current and future cropping demands.

SSM simply calls this the Measure to Manage program. (M2M)


An SSM European Cation Soil Sample measures the activity of the soil, Order request form

active pH v buffer pH, cation exchange capacity, base saturation percentages, phosphate functionality, carbon:P ratios and dissolvable salts.

Soil acidity determines the ability of a root to function for the required crop. This is fundamental to get right, but is rarely calculated against the ability of a soil to resist change. Buffer capacity can offer us a more relevant determination of how much bulk nutrient to apply to the specific soil.

Cation exchange capacity is very often calculated incorrectly, but still forms the basis of a crop's fertiliser requirements. It is only calculated on the amounts of major cations measured, dependant on the extraction method used. Meaning that if the extraction method isn't known, or not all the cation elements are tested, there can be fundamental discrepancies.

With the SSM European Cation soil method, the extraction method used takes into account both acid and calcareous soil types and has been assessed to be uniquely applicable to UK and European soils.

Once we are happy with the best extraction method for our cations, we can then apply the base saturation calculations to the results, identifying how the cations behave together in a soil for the benefit of the crops.

Knowing how a soil's available nutrients are balanced is a tremendously powerful level of information for growers, providing a corner stone when deciding farm input policy. It also highlights potential deficiencies, which could be resulting in performance limitations both for crops and animal health.

We call this the total nutrient content and it is always measured under SSM soil sampling methods.

We cannot keep taking nutrients out of a soil without replacing them without the system running out of nutrients. However, there is little or no value to the farmer or the environment if we simply keep adding excess nutrients to a soil because the soil isn't cycling those nutrients for crop use. That would be like investing money in a bank without a method of withdrawing it. We, like soils, need to access our money (nutrients), and we can look upon good biology as the ATM. We know the money (nutrient) is there and we know we are wealthy but the way we convert our savings into cash isn't functioning. An example of this would be soils with a high reserve of phosphate but very low cycling (plant available P) simply due to the soil continually lying wet and therefore not cycling this reserve to the plants.

Knowing both the total and available amounts of the major cations and anions tells us how fertile our soils are, what level of crop expectations we can sustain into the future and how best to meet the demands of these growing crops.

SSM European Cation Soil System undertakes an extraction method for trace elements, which is internationally renowned for its accuracy, allowing us to directly compare results against performances on similar soils. Trace elements form an integral part of crop performance and productivity, from developing resistance to diseases to cell reproduction and the nutrient dense food characteristics for the human or livestock systems they are fed in to. We are frequently told how our food these days contains less nutrients than some years ago, and in the most part it is a compelling argument. Modern synthetic fertilisers are just too pure, not containing the trace elements that more traditional fertilisers have by default. So, by identifying our soil's position regarding trace nutrients we are much better placed to debate the rights and wrongs of applying these trace elements to the soil, following a foliar crop program or feeding the minerals directly to the animals.

SSM advisors are more than happy to discuss any areas related to soils and quality food production, but without the full knowledge of a complete SSM European Cation soil analysis, an informed debate is simply not possible.

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SSM’s core principle is to help create the right soil environment to allow nature’s natural processes to function and develop. SSM always makes the best use of modern chemistry, fertiliser, machinery & cultural developments, where appropriate.