Your commercial property is your investment and protecting it is essential. Did you know that one of the most crucial but often overlooked aspects of property maintenance is soil testing?
Soil testing is a quick and accurate process of analyzing the composition and properties of soil to determine potential hazards and its current state of health. Soil health is determined by the relative pH and level of essential nutrients found, such as:
By conducting soil testing on your commercial property, you can identify potential problems early on, improve soil health, and ultimately increase property value. In this article, we’ll discuss the many benefits of soil testing in Portland, OR and how Alpha Environmental can help you perform soil tests today.
The Process of Soil Testing
Soil testing involves gathering soil samples and analyzing them for various properties, such as pH levels, potential hazards, and nutrient content.
There are five types of soil testing, but ultimately the method used will depend on the soil itself.
Moisture Content Test
The moisture content test can be conducted using several methods, including:
- Calcium carbide
- Torsion balance
- Sand bath
However, the most popular is the oven-drying method. For this, the soil is gathered, weighed, and dried at 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Afterward, it’s weighed again to measure the difference in weight.
Atterberg Limits Test
The Atterberg limits test is used to measure the water content of fine-grained soil. This test measures the shrinkage, plastic, and liquid limit.
The shrinkage limit is a mathematical formula determining the water content that fills the voids in the soil.
The plastic limit is when the soil sample is mixed with water to give it a plastic texture. The resulting sample is shaped into a ball and rolled into 3mm threads. If the threads don’t break, then the process is repeated with a new soil sample and even less water until it breaks.
The liquid limit test uses a Casagrande grooving tool that rises and falls while measuring the soil’s liquid limit.
Proctor’s Compaction Test
The Proctor’s compaction test is conducted to determine the soil compaction characteristics. For this test, the soil sample is air-dried and divided into smaller samples.
Each one is given between 3 to 5 percent water and placed into a Proctor compaction mold. The soil samples are hammered into the mold and then dried to determine the dry density and water content.
Specific Gravity Test
This test measures the ratio of the density of the soil to the density of water. The specific gravity test can use several methods like the density bottle method, gas jar method, and measuring flask method.
Dry Density Test
This test calculates the dry density of soil using the weight of the particles in the sample. The dry density will depend on the soil’s gravity and void ratio.
Underground Storage Tank
If your property has an underground storage tank, it’s important that you test your soil, especially if the tank is decades old and at risk of leaking. A single tank can contaminate the surrounding areas for years and cause costly damage.
Our professionals here at Alpha Environmental can help locate the tank, sample the soil, conduct a risk assessment or decommissions based on the result, and remediate the soil and groundwater if necessary.
The Benefits of Soil Testing for Your Commercial Property
Identifying Potential Hazards
One of the primary benefits of soil testing is being able to identify potential hazards on your commercial property before they turn into a costly and lengthy issue.
Soil testing can detect a range of hazards, including soil erosion, contamination, lead contamination, and nutrient deficiencies. The ability to identify these hazards early on provides commercial property owners with the opportunity to remediate the soil and prevent further contamination and damage.
Soil testing can help detect contamination from sources, including:
- Industrial pollutants
- Heavy metals
Soil testing can detect erosion early on and help property owners take the necessary steps to stabilize the soil.
Improving Soil Health
Soil testing is an important tool that can help commercial property owners improve their soil’s health, which is a critical factor in maintaining healthy landscaping.
One of the main benefits of soil testing is that it can identify nutrient deficiencies in your soil.
Nutrients are essential for healthy plant growth, and deficiencies can lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and even plant death.
Soil testing can identify nutrient deficiencies and provide information on what nutrients your soil needs. Once you know what nutrients your soil needs, you can apply fertilizers and other amendments to address the deficiencies and improve soil health.
Another way soil testing can help improve soil health is by identifying pH imbalances. Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and it can affect the availability of nutrients in the soil.
Different plants have different pH requirements, and if the pH of your soil is outside the range that your plants need, they may not be able to absorb the nutrients they require.
Soil testing can also help you develop a more efficient fertilization and pesticide application plan. By understanding your soil’s nutrient needs, you can apply fertilizers and pesticides more efficiently, reducing waste and improving the health of your soil.
Improving soil health can also benefit the environment. Healthy soil can help prevent erosion, reduce water runoff, and increase water-holding capacity. This can help enhance water quality and reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation.
Increasing Property Value
Soil testing is a valuable tool that can increase your commercial property’s value over time. This is because by conducting a soil test, you can identify potential hazards and take the necessary steps to improve your soil’s health.
This can lead to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable use of the land, which can be an attractive point to potential buyers.
Soil testing also helps prevent potential hazards that can significantly decrease your property value from occurring in the first place. Some hazards that can negatively impact your soil’s health and property value include:
- Soil contamination
- Nutrient deficiencies
Additionally, soil testing can provide valuable information to potential buyers about the quality of the property. By providing documentation of the soil tests and the measures taken to improve soil health, commercial property owners can demonstrate the property’s value and the care taken to maintain it.
How Alpha Environmental Can Help You Perform a Soil Test
Types of Soil Tests Offered
Alpha Environmental is a leading environmental consulting and remediation company in Portland and surrounding areas. We offer a range of soil testing services to ensure that the soil around your commercial property is healthy and free from contaminants.
A couple of the soil tests offered include lead testing and testing for contamination around a heating oil tank or underground storage tank (UST).
The Soil Testing Process with Alpha Environmental
Lead testing in the soil is especially important for businesses in areas where lead-based materials were once used or produced, machining shops, industrial factories, and glass blowing factories.
However, the locations are limited to the ones listed above. Although lead-based paints were banned in 1978, their wide use in commercial properties prior to its ban can cause elevated lead levels in the soil around the building.
Avoid lead exposure by relying on our team of professionals for reliable lead testing, result interpretation, and potential remediation.
If you have a UST, it’s likely you will need to locate the tank and conduct a soil test if you’re:
- Selling or purchasing a property
- Updating property insurance
- Discovering you have a UST
- Applying for a mortgage
- Increasing heating oil consumption
- Converting to an above-ground tank
Our team will collect samples surrounding the tank and potentially take samples inside the tank as well. This is to detect any signs of leaks or corrosion.
In the event that there is a leak or corrosion, the samples will help locate the leak, the type of oil polluting the soil, and determine how long it’s been leaking.
If necessary, our certified heating oil tank supervisors will conduct clean decommissions or conduct risk assessments depending on the outcome. During this step, we ensure that the tested area meets the EPA and DEQ requirements and submit the necessary permits and paperwork before closure.
Finally, if the soil test reveals that it’s contaminated, we will conduct soil and groundwater remediation to resolve the issue quickly.
Give Us a Call Today to Learn More About Our Soil Testing Services
Soil testing is an important aspect of commercial property maintenance that can help property owners identify potential hazards, improve their soil’s health, and increase property value.
By conducting a soil test, you can detect soil erosion, nutrient deficiencies, heavy metal contamination, and other potential hazards. Improving your property’s soil health can lead to healthy plant growth, reduce the need for irrigation, and prevent environmental damage.
If you’re interested in soil testing in the Portland, OR, area, call our team today to learn more about our services and how we can help you protect your property.