soil texture graphic

EcoSoil Lab

Coming Winter 2023

The EcoSoil Lab offers a variety of support services for farmers, growers, and organizations that are keen to explore soil biology and advance soil health. We provide soil analysis, biostimulant-focused soil treatments for agricultural environments, interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities. Our services will initially be offered on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, which are home to a diverse range of agricultural production systems and soil types.

Key opportunities

Restoring the productive capacity of soils while maximizing yield and preserving the distinct characteristics of a region can be achieved by preparing and distributing locally-adapted biological amendments. These include both compost and liquid extracts, which can be tailored to match the unique heterogeneity of regional landscapes and production systems. Restoration of managed systems can be achieved by amplifying the distinct soil biology that are uniquely suited to local conditions, providing an opportunity to understand how these forces shape products in ways that maximize the distinctive qualities of place and are meaningful to consumers and farmers.

The EcoSoil Lab coordinates and leads interdisciplinary investigations into the identification, mapping, amplification, and impact assessment of carbon-rich biostimulants and soil biology on people, places, and ecosystems. By building trusted relationships based on shared objectives to improve soil health across farms and academia, benefits can be communicated and cascaded through supply chains to consumers. This work provides a path to characterize and celebrate regional soil and product heterogeneity.

Anticipated outcome

Adoption of approaches that manage for soil biology, reduce costs, increase crop and soil health and improve resilience for farmers and communities.
Key services of the EcoSoil Lab include:

Soil Analysis

Conduct basic biological, physical, and chemical soil assessments on a cost recoverable basis for farmers and research partners. Results interpretation and solutions-oriented consultation will support farmers to make decisions to improve their soil health and achieve their objectives.

Lab services

Soil sampling design and collection, direct microscopy soil biological assessment, compaction, and aggregate stability tests conducted in house. Additional soil tests can be coordinated with external labs on a cost pass-through basis. Results interpretation and extension supports offered.

Biostimulant Application

Work with local producers to create and apply locally adapted biological soil amendments (compost, compost extract, compost tea, protozoa infusions and nematode infusions) rich in carbon and diverse local soil food webs, in line with overarching objectives and measures of farmer success. Research and extension services will support maximal return on investment.

Lab services

Biostimulant (biologically complete compost, compost extract, compost tea) creation, testing, application, and monitoring.

Interdisciplinary Research

Work to identify alignment between research priorities within the University of Victoria and partner organizations, and design and implement interdisciplinary research that positions soil health at the centre of solutions to emerging and ongoing environmental, economic, and social priorities. Create opportunities for teaching and training.

Lab services

Collaborative research protocol design, development and implementation. Academic research, analysis, report development and communication.
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Ecogastronomy Research Group

I and my students use quantitative analyses of food and wine production systems to reveal linkages between ecological and social sustainability, “quality”, and the primacy of place … “Ecogastronomy”

Dr. John Volpe

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School of Environmental Studies
University of Victoria
V8W 2Y2
JPV Office - Turpin B156
EcoSoil Lab - Turpin B159
Sensory Lab - Turpin B161
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