National Soil Project

Northeastern University
Boston, Massachusetts
Click here to download SAMPLE REPLY FORM
Thank you in advance for your assistance with this research project. Soil quality is a high national priority.

National Soil Project Underway at Northeastern University Assistance Requested

Principal Research Scientist Elham Ghabbour and Chemistry Professor Geoffrey Davies are leading The National Soil Research Project (NSP) at Northeastern University, Boston. The project aims to measure the humic acid (HA), fulvic acid (FA) and humin (HU) contents of the nation’s agricultural top soils (0 – 30 cm) with newly-developed, reproducible measurement methods. This unique project supports Northeastern’s commitment to education and research in health, sustainability and security.

Healthy, productive soils are a treasured resource that we often take for granted. Long-lived HA, FA and HU represent the sequestered carbon content of a soil. They are major microbially-resistant organic soil components that retain water, act as soil buffers, improve soil texture/permeability, regulate our climate and support many other healthy soil functions.

The concern is that our HAs and FAs are being depleted over time, leading to poorer and poorer soils. Soils potentially can be re-built with HAs extracted from sources such as low rank coals that are no use as fuels. Reliable analytical methods are needed for humic products in garden shops and agricultural suppliers. Existing data do not distinguish HAs and FAs from transient soil organic matter such as leaf litter, grass cuttings and corn stover. The Northeastern group has many years of experience in isolating and measuring HAs and FAs. Preliminary results on 900 samples from across the nation indicate wide variation in soil HA and FA contents.

The NSP needs 2 oz, air-dried agricultural top soill samples to be mailed parcel post to NU from the nation’s farms and counties for analysis. Parcel post will be reimbursed on request. Please submit a Sample Reply Form with each sample and provide GPS, etc on the form. Contact or and check the website The project results will be published and shared with soil donors on request. Your participation will make this project possible and is greatly appreciated.

Sequestered Carbon Contents of the Nation’s Agricultural Soils

Thank you in advance for your assistance with this research project. Soil quality is a high national priority.

We ask that you kindly send us your choice of an air-dried 50 gm sample of a surface (0-30 cm) agricultural top soil of your County together with its geographical (GPS) location, texture and classification (if known). Please indicate on the form below if you have any historical data for this soil but do not send the data at this point. Please keep a copy of this completed form.

Please remove leaves, sticks, rocks, pebbles and obvious trash from the sample before shipping it sender-paid via USPS Parcel Post with the completed form below to the address on the form.

Undergraduate students participating in this project will determine the sequestered Carbon and ash contents of the sample. Spectral, elemental analysis, etc. measurements may be made.

Please call with questions. Your assistance with this national project is greatly appreciated.

Geoffrey Davies Ph. D.
Elham A. Ghabbour Ph.D.
National Soil Project Directors

Soil Information Form (Please Use Capital Letters)

Your Last Name___________________First Name___________________Middle initial(s)____
Title (Mr., Ms.)____County_______________________      _______State____________________
Street Address____________________________City/Town_______________ Zip___________
Phone: (     )_________________Fax: (    )_____________E-mail_________________________
Sample Label/Date________________           Shipping Date_________Historical data?(Y/N)_______
Texture_______________________ Classification ____________________________________
Other Info_____________________________________________________________________

Please ship soil sample to:
Prof. Geoffrey Davies
Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115-5000
Phone: (617)-373-2834             Fax: (617)-373-8795

  • Contact

    Prof. Geoffrey Davies
    Phone (617)373-2834

    Dr. Elham Ghabbour
    Phone (617)373-7988

    Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
    Northeastern University
    Boston, MA 02115-5000, USA
    Fax (617)373-8795