Soil Testing

Soil Nutrients

For over 30 years, CARO Analytical Services has been helping our public and private clients with their laboratory testing needs. Soil analysis is an important part of the testing that we do for public safety and healthy living. The most important characteristics of soil are fertility, pH and Alkalinity, and its texture, or structure. Many soils in gardens are loams: a mixture of clay, silt, and soil. Our highly trained staff of chemists, microbiologists, technologists and customer service professionals have the expertise to handle not only routine tests, but also specialized analyses to suit client needs. Choose us for your next garden or lawn testing solution! Check out our soil testing packages in our CARO Store or Submit a custom order request.

Soil tests are beneficial for your property. Whether it’s for a landscaping project, a public area like a golf course, your home’s garden, or a environmental cleanup, CARO is here to be your big picture sidekick along the way. A soil test is simply the overall composition of minerals, trace elements, and substances found in the ground being sampled. This helps keep your landscape healthy and will allow you to amend your soil if necessary. These tests are essential for keeping your soil fertile for any vegetation or crops.

The most important test to complete on your soil is the pH and Nutrients test. This is also called the Soil Fertility test or a Soil Nutrients (NPK) test. This analysis is a useful indicator if there is a more serious problem in your soil. It tells you and imbalances in your soil and what actions you should take to amend the problem. This is our most popular soil test as it accurately shows the health of your garden, lawn, or landscape.

We test soil, sediment and other materials for:

pH: Soil is rated on a pH scale, with a pH of 1 being most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. Soil pH has in-direct yet an impactful effect on plants. Plant nutrients become available or unavailable according to the soil’s pH level. This test is known to indicate if there is a more serious problem in your soil. An unbalanced level of pH suggests the plant won’t get enough nutrients for growth. This unbalance can go as far as poisoning the plant. If the pH is too low, manganese can be present at toxic levels and if the pH is too high, the plant nutrient molybdenum becomes toxic. Check out our store for the Essential Soil Test!

Nutrients: Soil is a major source of plant growth. The three main nutrients associated with soil fertility are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Nitrate is easily leached out of the soil by heavy rain, resulting in soil acidification. You need to apply nitrogen in small amounts so that plants use all of it, or in organic form, such as composted manure, so that leaching is reduced. Phosphorus transfers energy from sunlight to plants, stimulates early root and plant growth and hastens maturity. Potassium increases vigour and disease resistant of plants, helps form and move starches, sugars, and oils in plants, and can improve fruit quality. Knowing the nutrient unbalances in your soil allows you to take the right steps on correcting it.

Sulfide: Commonly known as acid sulphate soil. These soils contain iron sulphide minerals. In an undisturbed state below the water table, acid sulphate soils are harmless. However, if the soils are drained, excavated, or exposed to air by a lowering of the water table, the sulfides react with oxygen to form sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid from the soil can release iron, aluminum, and other heavy metals like arsenic within the soil. The acid and metals can create a variety of adverse impacts: killing vegetation, seeping into and acidifying groundwater and surface water bodies killing fish and other aquatic organisms, and degrading concrete and steel structures to the point of failure. CARO has your back though, we have an individual sulfide test on our CARO Store.

Metals: Metals are a natural occurring substance inside our soils. The soil’s pH affects the availability of metals. Even though metals assist in soil growth, plants can have too much or too little of a certain metal. For instance, an iron deficiency, where there is yellowing in the veins of young leaves. Most plants thrive in slightly acidic soil because that pH gives them good access to all nutrients. Metals can become toxic to your vegetation as well. Our Complete Soil Test Kit covers pH, Nutrients, Metals and Bacteria to give you the best peace of mind possible!

Cyanide: Most people associate cyanide to be extremely dangerous and a fast-acting poison. However, there are several types of cyanide, of varying toxicity, depending on the cyanide source. The most commonly occurring cyanides in soils and groundwater are Hydrogen Cyanide, Simple Cyanides, and Iron-complexed cyanides. Even though cyanide is poisonous to humans and our soil; pits, and seeds of common fruits, such as apricots, apples, and peaches, may have substantial amounts of chemicals which are metabolized to cyanide. We offer an individual cyanide test on our CARO Store.

Particle Size: Soil particles size varies greatly because each particle could be sand, silt, or clay and each of the ranges in different diameters. The size of soil particles is important. The amount of open space between the particles influences how easily water moves through soil and how much water the soil will hold. Soil can have an unbalanced portion of each type of particle which would affect the soils ability to be optimal for your gardening solution. Certain plants thrive in specific unbalances as well. We offer a Particle Size Analysis by hydrometer.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC): Organic compounds are chemicals that contain carbon and are found in all living things. VOC’s are organic compounds that easily become vapours or gases. They also include elements like hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulfur, and nitrogen. It is common to do a VOC indoor air quality test for certain areas but the VOC’s can be absorbed by soil and ruin vegetation as well. This can also be called soil-gas contamination.

Bacteria: There can be billions of bacteria in a single gram of soil. In general, bacteria are more competitive when labile (easy-to-metabolize) substrates are present. This includes fresh, young plant residue and the compounds found near living roots. This is because, in order for a plant to become established on fresh sediments, the bacterial community must establish first, starting with photosynthetic bacteria. But as you gardeners know, too much of a good thing leads to problems! We would all flood our gardens if that’s all it took. Too much bacteria has increased health risks for you and your plants. There are many different kinds of bacteria in soil: most notably, decomposers, nitrogen fixers, disease suppressors, actinobacteria, sulphur oxidizers, and aerobes/anaerobes. For more information on these bacterias, check out this article. Our Bacteria in Solids test analyzes for Total Coliforms, E.coli, and Fecal Coliforms as those are common indicators for contamination.

Pesticides: These include a large group of chemical agents that attempt to eliminate destructive biological forces in agriculture. For example; herbicides for killing plants, insecticides for killing insects, fungicides for killing fungus, and bactericides for killing bacteria. While these chemicals supposedly only target specific species, repeated use inevitably kills microbial life that is beneficial to the soil system. Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. Also, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. We do pesticide testing for water, soil, and food!

Total Organic Carbon: This is for our compost test. Organic matter is important in soil because it plays an important role in soil structure, nutrient availability, and water holding capacity. Knowing the organic content of your compost is essential for the decomposition process. If the Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio is too high (excess carbon), decomposition slows down. If the Carbon-to-Nitrogen ratio is too low (excess nitrogen), you will end up with a stinky pile.

We also test for..

– TCLP: Toxicity Characteristics Leaching Procedure
– Semi-VOC’s
– Phenols
– Glycols
– PCB’s

We’ve made great strides developing analytical testing services in soil for emerging contaminants. We continue to be excited about helping our clients successfully complete their projects or to provide reliable monitoring services to ensure long-term sustainability.

Please feel free to contact us to obtain further information, request supplies, or to speak to a customer service representative about your specific testing needs. If you require a specific test or request, please submit a custom order request to our CARO Store!


Richmond, British Columbia

#110 – 4011 Viking Way
Richmond, BC, V6V 2K9, Canada
Phone: (604) 279-1499 Fax: (604) 279-1599
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849


Kelowna, British Columbia

#102 – 3677 Highway 97N
Kelowna, BC, V1X 5C3, Canada
Phone: (250) 765-9646
Toll Free: 1 (888) 311-8846 Fax: (250) 765-3893
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849


Burnaby, British Columbia

#108 – 4475 Wayburne Drive
Burnaby, BC V5G 4X4, Canada
Phone: (604) 279-1499
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849

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Edmonton, Alberta

17225 109 Ave NW
Edmonton, AB, T5S 1H7, Canada
Phone: (780) 489-9100
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849


Whitehorse, Yukon

BOX 10 33 Levich Drive


Whitehorse, YT, Y1A0A8, Canada
Contact Us for Supplies and Deliveries
Toll Free: 1 (888) 311-8846
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849


Victoria, British Columbia

#3-576 Hillside Avenue


Victoria, V8T 1Y9, BC, Canada
Contact Us for Supplies and Deliveries
Toll Free: 1 (888) 311-8846
Email: [email protected]
After Hours Emergency: 1 (888) 311-8849