Since January 2018, Martijn van der Spoel and Arjan Zoontjens run the tree and soil technical consultancy Arbor Consultancy. They advise municipalities, provinces and project developers on landscaping throughout the Netherlands. For Martijn and Arjan, the “closed soil balance” is the underlying philosophy to determine which plants and trees fit into an area / project while limiting the nutrient removal from the soil to a minimum.
Some time ago Martijn heard AgroCares’ CEO Henri Hekman talk on BNR radio about the AgroCares Scanner and how it can be used to test soil nutrients directly in the field and how this has helped farmers in Africa. Martijn immediately thought; that is exactly what we need and contacted AgroCares. He is now using the AgroCares Scanner with the SoilCares Manager app to immediately gain insight into nutrients in the soil, right into the field. This diagnostic tool helps with direct insights to determine which plants and trees can grow healthily on this soil.
Looking for ways to directly measure soil quality
For the consultancy work of Arbor Consultancy, fast information about basic soil nutrients is often more important than exact measurements. Therefore, the AgroCares Scanner is the perfect tool. Martijn explains: “In green spaces it is not about a certain yield that must be achieved, but about “functional green”. The goal is to have plants and trees grow healthily in certain areas with as few artificial means as possible.”
Insight into the distribution of nutrients in the soil
Before Arbor Consultancy had access to the Scanner, they sent soil samples to various wet chemistry laboratories. They often received an extensive analysis but had to wait for about 2 weeks. It was also difficult to determine where exactly a soil analysis was required. The distribution of nutrients often turned out to be slightly different than expected. Because of this it sometimes turned out afterwards that analyzes in other places would have been useful. Because the Scanner gives immediate results, Arbor Consutlancy can determine more precisely where they want to take soil samples.
Better advice through direct insight
Martijn explains how he works: “When I visit an area, I often already have an advice in mind; I see certains things and make certain assumptions. It is nice to be able to immediately determine whether my assumptions are correct. Furthermore, with the Scanner you can easily take more soil sample, which will better support your advice.”
The customer is not always present when Martijn visits the area he advises on. If the customer is there, Martijn finds it a big advantage that he can immediately show the results of a soil analysis. “Many customers do respond to the Scanner with surprise and cannot understand that you can make a reliable analysis that quickly. However, the results are excellent and give no reason to doubt, with the great advantage that you can really show it. Furthermore, customers often assume that a much larger soil volume is measured in a wet chemistry lab than what the Scanner measures. When I explain to them that in a wet chemistry lab only a tiny bit of soil is measured and that the Scanner measures an area 5 times the size of that, the doubt quickly disappears.
The Scanner is a diagnostic tool
Martijn fully understands that the Scanner is not a mini-laboratory, but an instrument to make a diagnosis quickly. “The Scanner supports me in making the right decision and indicates a direction.” This is of course different from blindly trusting the test results. Martijn clarifies: “I also never trusted blindly the test results from a wet chemistry lab. You can call me stubborn, but I think you should always think for yourself.” With the Scanner, Martijn has found a hybrid form of analysis: first a diagnosis, followed by an extensive soil analysis or for example, an analysis of soil contamination using the services of a laboratory. If the Scanner can also measure calcium and magnesium in the future, Martijn will be completely satisfied. “Then I will have almost all the important information that I need to determine whether a plant or tree can grow healthily on a certain soil.”
Facts and monitoring
Martijn uses the AgroCares portal, which contains all his scan results, mainly for monitoring purposes. “You can compare data over a longer period via the Portal. It is also useful to be able to read the results into an Excel file and add them to a report.” In short, Arbor Consultancy is a satisfied customer who would certainly recommend the Scanner to other landscaping advisors. “Far too often consultants in landscaping know too little and only advise based on a visual assessment. This can really be improved!”