Soil Fingerprinting: New Tool for Soil Analysis

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) researchers have been leading the way in the science of soil analysis and management using new methodology called a soil fingerprinting framework. Soil is the base resource of all food on the planet. It is a limited resource that requires extra care and management to ensure a healthy agricultural sector. Learn about how AAFC scientists have been working with producers for the past century to manage and preserve our soils.

This video is the fourth in a series of five videos on the subject of soil which were produced to celebrate the International Year of Soils.

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Video Transcript

[An image and a maple leaf appear on screen. This is the title graphic for the video.]

[Light, electronic music fades in.]

Text on screen: Soil Fingerprinting, New tool for soil analysis

[The video opens with a medium shot of a researcher carving at soil wall layers.]

Narrator: The science of soil analysis and management has evolved quickly...

[Cut to medium shot of slurry tanker injecting soil with fertilizer with researcher trailing.]

...in recent years, and researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada...

[Medium close up of Dr. Catherine Fox standing in field.]

...have been leading the way using new methodology called a soil...

[Medium shot of researcher measuring A horizon layer of soil with tape.]

...fingerprinting framework. The soil fingerprinting framework provides a way to systematically...

[Cut to close up of researcher holding soil in hands.]

...track and record changes in soil chemical, physical and biological...

[Medium shot of researcher scraping at soil wall with shovel.]

...properties. With a particular emphasis on a very detailed way to describe soil...

[Close up of dirt pile with shovel in background.]

...structure. Up until now, there hasn't been a consistent system or tool...

[Tilt of subterranean soil wall to open field.]

...for generating that precise picture. Dr. Cathy Fox, along with teams in Ontario, British Columbia, and Germany, has developed that new tool. It will help agronomists and producers track what is happening in the surface layer of the soil.

Dr. Catherine Fox: Soil physical properties...

[Cut to medium close up of Research Scientist Dr. Catherine Fox talking in front of soil specimens.]

Text on screen: Dr. Catherine Fox, Research Scientist, Soil ecology and Soil Structure, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

...are the components of the soil related to its inherent...

[Cut to tilt shot from grass to soil beneath it.]

...particle size. These particles will aggregate...

[Cut back to medium close up of Research Scientist Dr. Catherine Fox in front of soil specimens.]

...together into specific soil structure, the structure itself...

[Extreme close up of soil specimen.]

...can tell you a lot about what’s happened...

[Close up of multiple soil specimens.]

...to the soil. These are some examples of...

[Close up Dr. Fox measuring soil specimens with her hands.]

...the diversity of soils that we have in Canada...

[Medium close up of Dr. Fox measuring soil specimens with her hands.]

...in the top surface here, we have the A horizon, and this is the area that...

[Cut to three researchers in corn field.]

...is most important for crop growth.

[Close up of shovel dumping and turning over soil.]

[Medium shot of Dr. Fox stirring soil with spade.]

[Cut to Dr. Fox pointing at computer screen in office with Soil Research Specialist David Kroetsch.]

[Cut to medium close up of Land Resource Scientist Natalie Feisthauer talking in office.]

Text on screen: Natalie Feisthauer, Land Resource Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Natalie Feisthauer: It’s a very specific way of taking all the information you can collect about a soil sample at the time of sampling...

[Cut back to Dr. Fox pointing at computer screen in office with Soil Research Specialist David Kroetsch.]

...and using this approach, you develop one single line of information...

[Low angle medium close up of researcher turning over soil with shovel in field.]

...if you sample soil and develop this fingerprint and go back for example...

[Cut back to medium close up of Natalie Feisthauer talking in office.]

...a year later, there are certain pieces of information in that fingerprint that may have changed and that will give you very specific information about what’s...

[Zoom to extreme close up of soil wall.]

...going on with the soil. You can go back over time...

[Cut back to medium close up of Natalie Feisthauer talking in office.]

...or you can compare different sites and see where the fingerprint is different, so what sort of properties have changed.

[Cut to medium close up of Soil Research Specialist David Kroetsch addressing camera in front of soil specimens.]

David Kroetsch: It’s a tool that’s going to give you that opportunity to...

[Cut to close up of soil in researcher’s hands.]

...take the measurements and then interpret what your soil quality is...

[Cut back to medium close up of David Kroetsch addressing camera in front of soil specimens.]

...or what your particular situation is.

Text on screen: David Kroetsch, Senior Soil Research Specialist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

And then go back and maybe apply a beneficial management practice, come back at a later time and say yes that has made a change for the better.

[Low angle medium shot of slurry tank top dressing soil.]

Or if we continue on with the current management...

[Cut back to medium close up of David Kroetsch addressing camera in front of soil specimens.]

...what’s the quality of the soil going to be? How effective is my current...

[Rack focus to close up of dried up canola crops.]

...management practice? Anytime we’re going to make a decision on how...

[Cut back to medium close up of David Kroetsch addressing camera in front of soil specimens.]

...we’re going to alter land use or land practices...

[Wide shot of researcher twisting corkscrew in field surrounded by flags.]

...we can be able to go out and routinely apply...

[Cut back to medium close up of David Kroetsch addressing camera in front of soil specimens.]

...a measurement technique that’s going to be reproducible, by whoever we have on the land.

[Medium shot of researcher analyzing cylinder of soil specimen.]

Narrator: This unique tool is currently available to the agricultural industry in Ontario.

[Tilt crane shot of grain crop field.]

It will be available across Canada and around the world in the spring of 2017. To learn more, check out our other videos on soil sciences in Canada.

[Cut to white screen with 2015 international year of soils logo.]

Text on screen: 2015 International Year of Soils, http://www.fao.org/soils-2015, #IYS2015

[Cut to tile photos of soil samples and Dr. Fox on bottom of white screen.]

Text on screen: Modern. Innovative. Growing. Discover other agricultural innovations at www.agr.gc.ca.

[Light, electronic music fades out.]

Text on screen: Canada, ©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food (2015).

[Fade to black.]

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