We first had the pleasure of working with Briana Alfaro and Soul Fire Farm in 2021 when they began testing soil with farmers in their network as part of their SARE research project, Soil Carbon Capture for Diverse Farmers; Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and other farmers and farm workers of color take the lead in testing soil carbon sequestration strategies and measurement protocols and disseminate those findings to the farming community in both English and Spanish.
Every two years the Soul Fire Farm team takes a closer look at the soil ecosystem and assesses how healthy their soil is. They do this by performing a series of in-field tests. Long before the western study of soil science, Indigenous communities practiced–and still practice–methods of evaluating soil health using characteristics such as color or the presence of specific plants or insects that tell us something about the system as a whole. On their soil testing days, they count the number of earthworms, perform a slake test to observe aggregate stability, look at soil color as an indicator of organic matter, and use the microBIOMETER® field kit to assess soil biology.
You can learn more in their Guide to In-Field Soil Health Measurement Protocols: How Alive is My Soil (English) & ¿Qué tan vivo está mi suelo? (Español), and by watching their Liberation on Land skill share videos: Soil Carbon part 1, Soil Carbon part 2 & Investigating Soil with an Auger.