Soil and Water Testing

Knowledge of soil and water is essential to horticulture, effluent use, grazing, cropping, and the rehabilitation of degraded sites. Our NATA (National Association of Testing Authorities) registered laboratory provides a wide range of soil and water analysis, result interpretation and management recommendations. These are typically used for:

  • soil ameliorant recommendations
  • urban and rural water quality
  • environmental monitoring
  • seed and fertiliser recommendation
  • suitability for earthworks construction and
  • identifying acid sulphate soils.

We have the science behind the solution to ensure the complete and comprehensive analysis that you require.

The Soil Conservation Service Laboratory, located at the Scone Research Centre, offers soil analysis and consultancy services to assist with soil and land management of: acid sulphate soils, effluent reuse, effluent pond construction, erosion and sediment control, farm dams and conservation earthworks, as well as the rehabilitation of degraded areas. 

The laboratory is accredited by the national Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) in the field of Construction Materials Testing (Accreditation Number 2323). 

Laboratory staff may provide advice on sample collection and delivery of samples. Staff may also assist with the interpretation of test results and provide management recommendations. 

Soil Fertility

Soil Conservation Service officers can determine plant nutrient levels in the soil and provide fertiliser recommendations, including lime and gypsum rates for:

  • Pasture production
  • Agricultural/horticultural crops
  • Rehabilitating mine sites
  • Rehabilitating degraded areas

Potential Acid Sulphate Soils

Soils containing pyrite (iron sulphate) are referred to as acid sulphate soils. On exposure to air following drainage, oxidation of the pyrite takes place and significant acid can be produced. This acid has a marked effect on the environment as well as buildings and other infrastructure. Testing is undertaken to identify both acid sulphate and potential acid sulphate soils. Management recommendations can also be provided.

Water Quality

Testing can be undertaken to determine water suitability for irrigation, as well as stock and domestic supply. Tests can be conducted on water to measure its hardness, salinity and sodium adsorption ratio. The concentration of iron, chloride, carbonates and bicarbonates can also be tested.


The percentage of clay, silt and sand present in soil is crucial to the construction of earthworks such as dams. The dispersion/aggregation and shrink/swell properties must be considered in determining the soil's suitability for earthworks. The hydraulic conductivity should also be assessed if the pond is to be used for effluent storage.

Rehabilitating Degraded Sites

Overgrazing or other forms of intensive land use can result in areas being stripped of vegetation resulting in the risk of severe erosion. Often, the topsoil has been lost or compacted to a point where specialised techniques are needed to establish suitable vegetation on the site. Soil Conservation Service officers use a combination of proven measures to re-vegetate large areas and difficult sites, including:

  • sighting, surveying and constructing a diversion bank above the area to protect it from runoff
  • deep ripping to break up rills and increase water infiltration
  • shaping and filling to achieve stable slopes
  • fertilising and sowing the area with suitable species and
  • fencing to exclude all stock and feral animals.

Our proven track record in successful rehabilitation projects includes rural properties, road batters, gravel quarries, salt scalded areas, derelict mines, garbage tips and beach dunes.


For more information please contact the Soil Conservation Service Laboratory on
(02) 6545 1666, or email

Page last updated/reviewed: 20 Aug 2014