A soil’s ability to soak up water quickly is a sign of its health, and good news for you with regards to water efficiency. The simple water infiltration test we describe here will allow you to see what will likely happen on any spot next time it rains or you use overhead irrigation. The longer the water takes to soak in, the more likely it is to evaporate or run off before your plants 

Here’s how you do it:

  • Get something cylindrical you can bang into the ground. We used a short section of poly pipe sharpened at one end, but we’ve also seen a tin can with both ends cut off being used. 
  • Bang it into the ground enough that the water you’re about to pour in won’t escape out the sides. The old carpenter in Lee has come out here to use a piece of timber over his poly and a mallet.
  • Calculate how much rain you’re wanting to test. The standard is an inch. Forgotten how to calculate the volume of a cylinder? No worries, Google has you covered. Just type in ‘calculate volume of cylinder’ and a handy online calculator pops up.
  • Pour that much water in and time how long it takes to disappear! Come prepared with popcorn, some poor soils can take over 20 minutes.

We did ok, with our water taking just over 2 minutes to seep in. We filmed it and used that time to talk more about the test and have Lee answer some questions Kirsty had. See the video below.

Have a go and let us know how long yours took!

Massive thanks to Nicole Masters for showing us this super simple yet massively effective way to see how our soils function.

Want to improve your water infiltration rate? See our five tips for doing it naturally – without synthetic wetting agents or machinery – here.