Regarding taking samples from your fields:

– Before you collect and send the samples, please let us know when you are planning to send the bags.

– Take 3-5 samples from each field, and place these samples in one sealable plastic bag. The total amount of soil in the bag needs to be at least 100g. The bag must be large enough so that at least two thirds of the bag is filled with air. Don’t squeeze out the air, otherwise the sample may go anaerobic during transport.

– Write on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker. Note (1) your name, (2) the date the sample was taken and (3) the location (e.g. “Field 1”, make sure the name for the location is meaningful to you). Do not put a paper into the bag with this information; the microbes may consume the paper and the ink, which would destroy the information and alter the microbial composition.

– Make sure you collect the samples from the actual soil. Remove any organic matter (such as leaves) that covers the soil before you collect the sample. You can use an apple corer or a spoon to collect the samples. We would suggest taking the samples from the top 3 inches of your field. If you want to go to a different depth for whatever reason, that’s fine, but let us know.

– Make a random collection of the samples from various areas in your field. But only collect the samples from areas in the field that are typical for the field. E.g. if there is an area on the field where you stored fertiliser in the previous years, don’t collect from there. Also stay away from borders to neighbouring fields or pathways. Also, if you have markedly different areas on the field in terms of plant growth, you need to choose which type of area you want analysed; e.g. don’t mix samples from areas where you have healthy plant growth with samples from areas where your plants are sick.

– Send the bags with a tracked delivery service that aims to deliver within 24 hours within the UK (e.g. Royal Mail Tracked 24). It’s fine if the bags take two days to arrive, but anything beyond that risks the soil going anaerobic. For that reason, I don’t recommend sending them too close to the weekend.

– Our lab is in Chippenham, Wiltshire. We will share our full shipping address once your order is confirmed.