Solvita® has a diagnostic test requiring no prior experience or chemistry skills in order to obtain an accurate and useful result. The kit measures both carbon-dioxide (CO2) and ammonia (NH3) which are the two most common gaseous emissions of composting materials. High rates of emission of either or both gases are indicative an actively degrading compost.
The test results together can be used to obtain a Maturity Index. The concept of a maturity index arose over time based on the widespread experience that using a test for CO2 alone to infer maturity is not as reliable as using a double test.
Solvita is a volumetric procedure. This means, it is measuring respiration per unit volume of compost, and not per unit weight. The advantage of measuring respiration per volume is that the results are immediately relevant for horticultural media and constructed soils that are interested in optimizing high rates of compost.
Solvita may be used to provide useful information about the entire composting process. The test is applicable on-site to monitor the process, and for gauging the end of composting where CO2 rate and ammonia are expected to have attained low levels. The test is helpful to infer aeration requirements based on the indicated depletion of oxygen during the test (Version 5 and later).