SHAP Ground-Truthing Project


OMAFRA has released the Soil Health Assessment and Plan (SHAP) tool for use. SHAP is a mobile- or web-app based tool, created to assess field practices, and is paired with lab analysis of soil health indicators.

The SHAP Ground-Truthing Project will populate the provincial SHAP database with more agricultural soils from across Ontario.  A populated database will help “scoring functions” be built, so individual samples from Ontario can be compared to other soils in Ontario. We aim to refine scoring functions based on texture.

We need your help. This Ground-Truthing Project uses a smaller number of SHAP questions but all the soil BMPs are covered.

Please email to participate in this project.

With this project, lab analysis of soil includes:

SHAP analysis:

  1. Organic Matter (OM)
  2. Aggregate stability
  3. Active carbon (POXc)
  4. Respiration (96-hr carbon mineralization CO2)
  5. Potentially mineralizable nitrogen (PMN)

Soil Texture analysis (% sand, silt, clay)

Standard Fertility Package: (OM, pH, CEC, P, K, Ca, Mg)

PLUS Organic carbon and total nitrogen analysis.

This is an abbreviated SHAP Tool as part of a project by Soils At Guelph with the goal of building the SHAP database with Ontario soil samples. No personal information (e.g. landowner names, addresses) is being collected. Any production information (e.g. questions on cropping rotations, tillage methods) is being collected in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purposes of this project. The information obtained will be anonymized, and may be made available to collaborating organizations, such as University,  GBF, EFAO, OSN, OSCIA, OMAFRA, and AAFC, and only for specific soil-related research. By participating in this project, you acknowledge that Soils At Guelph is collecting the data for this purpose and provide your consent.

This guide provides step-by-step instructions for participating in the Project.

All samples MUST be accompanied by a completed submission form. You will automatically receive the submission form once you have completed BOTH the SHAP Soil Managment tool AND the SHAP In-field tool.

Completed forms include:

  • your unique sample ID, 
  • the quote # sent to you after you completed the SHAP in-field tool, and 
  • indicate you’d like a “Soils At Guelph Project SHAP test” analysis. 

Ship/drop off completed form and samples to: Agriculture and Food Laboratory, Univ, Guelph 95 Stone Rd W, Guelph, ON N1G 2Z4. In person drop off can occur Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm or Saturdays, 9:30 am to 1:30 pm

This Guidebook provides detailed information about the SHAP tool.

This guide provides step by step instructions for how to decide where to take your sample. 

Here are some of our common FAQs:
Q1) Is the cost of shipping covered?  
A1) The cost of the shipping is not included.  We DO cover the cost of the analysis. 
Q2) Are special tools required for sample collection? Can I use a standard gardening trowel.
A2) See Step 4 in the SHAP Quick Guide.  A soil Core Tool is recommended. A zip lock bag put into a box or other “rip proof” container is sufficient for storage.
Q3)Is a Ziploc bag sufficient for storage?
A3) Any sterile and sealable bag put into a box or other “rip proof” container is sufficient for storage.
Q4) Do samples need temperature control for shipping? 
A4) No.  But please keep samples cool prior to shipping. 
Q5) Are only row-crop fields eligible, or would hay fields and pastures be eligible as well?  
A5) Hay fields are eligible, but not pasture. 
Q6) Does time of year matter?
A6) The best time is June, before the ground gets too hard. However, it may be more convenient to take samples in September or early October (when the ground has softened up again).  Be sure to keep a record of your sampling time, and if you are taking another sample in the future, take the sample again at the same time of year. 
Q7) What if I’ve had my fields mapped? 
A7) Field data from digital mapping, etc., can be used to help you choose which soil sampling location you decide to pick. See “How to decide where to sample” Quick Guide
Q8) Where can I find the Quote # for my sample submission form? 

A8) It was sent to you automatically when you completed your SHAP-in field tool. It is a 6 digit alpha-numeric code.  the email comes from

Q9) Where do I get a soil probe? 
A9) Try Hoskin Scientific to see soil probes and other soil product offerings. 
Don’t see your question answered here?  Reach out to:

Fall planted cover crops

This Project received generous funding from:

Weston Family Foundation through the Weston Family Soil Health Initiative