Why would anyone use a soil testing kit? Because the more you know about the soil in which you want to plant this or that, the more efficient the growth process and the success rate will be as well. With a soil testing kit, you can get valuable soil-related information, like nutrient levels and pH composition.
As you understand more about where you stand and what your soil needs, you can make the required adjustment to bring the soil to the ideal health level for your crops. With that in mind, let’s explore in-depth the world of soil testing kits.
Benefits of Soil Testing Kits
Some of the people that are most likely to want to buy a soil test kit are farmers, but they are not the only category of buyers that might be interested in such a product. If you’ve never heard about the soil test kit before, you might be wondering why this would be needed and what are the advantages it brings to the table:
- A soil test kit will let you know if your current soil is healthy or how you can improve it. The physical, biological, and chemical properties of the soil are the three branches that contribute to its fertility. A part of the features, such as texture, structure, or color, is visible to the naked eyes. Others are related to the soil chemical composition that requires testing in order to determine exactly where you stand. Soil sampling is a critical part of the process, and soil testing kits can go a long way in helping you determine these bits of information. With a soil testing kit, you can get information such as pH or soil nutrient levels. When you know all of this, you will then figure out which type of fertilizer to use and how much of it in order to improve the soil and bring it to the levels that interest you.
- When you know what your soil is lacking, you can are less likely to waste money on too much or the wrong type of fertilizer. This might not be a big deal if all you’re growing is a rose bush, but for people with large yards, big gardens, or an impressive number of crops, a soil test kit can save a lot of money in the long run.
- With a soil test kits, you are also likely to avoid over-fertilization. This is quite a common problem amongst people who don’t test their soils, as the lack of information leads to applying too much fertilizer that adds nutrients that the soil doesn’t even need. This, of course, can eventually lead to environmental damage (as excesses of anything tend to do that). That being said, over-fertilization can lead to water pollution or nutrient leaching. By simply buying a soil test kit, you can get this much-needed information beforehand and thus you can avoid crop, soil, and environmental damage.
- When you gather all the information needed after having used a soil testing kit, you can actually avoid soil degradation, which is an issue more common and severe than you think. In fact, it is estimated that about 1.5 billion people are affected by land degradation. Soil-restoration is a complicated and time-consuming process, so it’s best if you take all the necessary steps to avoid it altogether.
- When you have healthy soil, you contribute to the world around you in more ways than one. Healthy soil means healthy trees, which means more oxygen and clean air. Healthy soil means more flowers, which means more bees that are so essential to agriculture. Healthy soil means healthier crops, which leads to feeding more people with proper organic food. As you can see, with a good soil test kit, you are taking the first step in having healthier soil which, in turn, offers a variety of other benefits depending on what exactly you plan on planting.
Types of Soil
The type of soil that you have to deal with will strongly determine what types of vegetation you can grow. The most common types of soil include:
- Loam soil – which evens out the balance between humus, clay, sand, and silt.
- Sandy soil – with plenty of sand particles in the soil and characterized by the inability to hold nutrients efficiently.
- Clay soil – easily recognized by large amounts of clay that prevent the soil from properly draining.
- Silt soil – is powdered and very fertile, but also prone to waterlogging more than other types of soil
Facts about Soil
Soil is such a fascinating part of Mother Earth and one of life’s essential elements, when you come to think about it. But how much do we really know about soil (with the exception of people who actually work with it for a living)? Let’s check out this list of fascinating facts:
- Soil can have more than just a brown color and a single texture, and that’s because of its very interesting and diverse composition. It is basically a mash-up of dead critters, leaves, fallen tree branches, broken rocks, and others. It can be sandy, crumbly, creamy, smooth, and it can also be white, red, or yellow.
- The healthiest soil composition is made from 25 percent water and another 25 percent air, 45 percent minerals, and 5 percent organic matter.
- Within the soil’s pores, one can find 0.01% of the Earth’s total water.
- A single gram of soil can be home to about 5,000 to 7,000 different types of bacteria.
- There is a direct correlation between soil and how much water your plants are going to receive.
- Soil forms incredibly slow. In fact, it takes about 500 years for a single inch of topsoil.
- Soil is divided into multiple layers which are known as “horizons”.
Top 6 Best Soil Test Kits
Our first item on the list is a soil test kit designed for those who are looking to know exactly what soil conditions they’re dealing with and what are the next steps to take in order to grow the vegetation of choice.
What you basically buy with the Soil Savvy test kit is a complete soil analysis that gives you information on aluminum, boron, copper, zinc, manganese, iron, sodium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, ammonium, nitrate, and pH.
In order to have your soil tested, you will have to add soil samples into the jar, use the pre-paid postage envelope to ship your sample, and then wait between 7 and 10 days to receive a full e-mail report with detailed information.
When you receive the report, you will also get information on the type of fertilizer that’s best suited for the type of soil that you currently have, as well as instructions on how to get the soil to the desired levels.
- Testing done in less than 10 days.
- Provides information on 14 soil nutrients.
- Results are available on e-mail.
- Fertilizer recommendations included.
- Some claim reports are confusing.
Soil Kit (yes, that’s the name of the company) provides you with a soil test kits that are simple to use and will give you important information on where your soil stands in terms of pH and nutrients.
It will give you results on levels of nutrients that include iron, manganese, boron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, as well as the soil’s pH level.
Once you have collected the soil sample and sent it for analysis, you should expect to receive a comprehensive report that will give you an important update on the soil conditions that you’re interested in.
Soil Kit takes pride in delivering scientific information that everyone can understand. Their numbers are used to create simple reports and overviews, but also product recommendations that come from experts in the field.
- Easy-to-understand report.
- Comes with shipping label.
- Digital results available.
- Result delivery waiting time is not specified.
The Whitetail Institute soil testing kit doesn’t offer the same perks as some of the other products that you’re going to find on this list, yet it is one of the most popular options out there. You can test your soil to get information on magnesium, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and other nutrient levels.
One of the major advantages provided by the soil test kit made by the Whitetail Institute is the fact that you can get the results in about a week, which is typically less than what other manufacturers can provide.
You can receive the results via e-mail or regular mail. However, one of the major disadvantages that customers complain about is the fact that the kit doesn’t include prepaid shipping to the company, which means that you will have to pay for the soil sample shipping costs (which is typically under $10).
- Fast results.
- Mail or e-mail results to choose from.
- Easy to use.
- pH and nutrient levels testing.
- You need to pay for the shipping sample.
This soil testing kit is a bit different from the rest because it offers a lot more products included in the package, and you have to understand what each one of them does if you want to enjoy the full perks of what you paid for.
One of the things that stands out with this kit is the included Garden Guide manual and LaMotte Soil Handbook combo. These two guides will give you information on what fertilizer and lime to use (and how much) based on what your soil needs.
This is basically a kit that doesn’t just measure soil nutrient levels, but also teaches you how to interpret results because the more you understand about your soil, the easier it will be to offer it what it needs and grow healthy crops every time.
So, instead of sending soil samples to a lab, you are given everything you need to test the soil yourself. The pack includes products such as laminated color charts for nutrient measuring, diagrammed instructions, and even rapid test procedures.
- Manuals and guides included.
- Teaches you how to test your soil.
- You don’t have to wait for results.
- No soil sample shipping required.
- Test tubes are of poor quality.
The Atree Soil pH meter is the product that we’ve really been forward to talking about because it’s way different from any other product that we’ve added to the list. It is a best-selling item created for people who want to test their soil for important pH-related information so they will know what the next steps are to follow for soil improvement.
This is basically a tool that you partially insert in the soil you want to test (at about 4 to 6 inches in depth) and you will get a reading of the required information. The tool is able to identify pH levels, but also moisture and light. It is equipped with a light sensor that will basically tell you if your plants are getting the required amount of light.
When you’ve inserted the meter into the ground at the recommended depth, you turn the switch on to MOIST/LIGHT/pH. You may be required to adjust the position of the meter until you get some dial swings that indicate the meter has actually started testing. All the three bits of information that you need to know will be measured in about 10 minutes. Make sure that you wipe the meter clean after having removed it from the soil.
- Very easy to use.
- Measures light and moisture levels.
- Accurate soil pH reading.
- Results are simple to understand.
- Best-selling product.
- Does not measure nutrient levels.
Luster Leaf is a simplified version of the Atree pH meter we talked about earlier. If that one could also measure moisture and light, the Luster Leaf meter is focused on one thing alone, and that’s the soil’s pH level. The product itself is tiny, inexpensive, and is made of three major components: a corded probe that allows you to easily handle the meter, a large display that will give you precise information on the pH levels of your soil, and a metallic probe that measures 4 inches in length and goes into the soil.
The range of pH reading that this baby can do is between 3.5 and 9, with the meter going up when the soil pH levels are also on the rise. The meter will be delivered with more detailed information on how to use it, but also recommendations that will help you make the best out of your soil and be able to adjust pH levels which are ever so important for growing healthy flora.
- Good price.
- Easy to use.
- Fast readings.
- Customers claim they have to clean probe before first use.
FAQ about Soil Test Kits
Are home soil test kits accurate?
Yes, they are, but it really depends on the brand that you purchase. For instance, the La Motte Soil Test Kit has a 94 percent accuracy.
How can I test the pH of my soil at home?
There are actually two ways to test the soil’s pH at home: by either using a soil test kit or one of the available home-recipes that can help you do just that. If you want to try the latter option, you will have to dig for a soil sample, filter the debris from the soil, mix it with water in a clean recipient, stir in about half a cup of vinegar and, if you notice any fizzing, you’re dealing with alkaline soil. If there are no bubbles, then you have to take another soil sample, but instead of vinerage, add half a cup of baking soda instead. If you notice any bubbles, foam, or fizzing, you’re dealing with acidic soil.
What is the fastest way to lower pH in soil?
Generally speaking, there are two ingredients that people use to lower the soil’s pH: aluminum sulfate and sulphur. The former is capable of reducing the soil’s pH because aluminum quickly dissolves in the soil and produces acidity. Sulphur has a variate conversion rate that depends on its finesse, soil moisture, and temperature.
Bottom Line: Soil Test Kit
Having your soil tested for information such as pH levels and nutrient composition is important if you want to grow healthy crops, beautiful flowers, trees, shrubs, and pretty much any plant life that’s planted directly in the soil. There is a wide range of different testing kits, with some of them requiring you to take samples of the soil and sending them by mail, and others giving you all the tools needed to perform the tests yourself and get the readings as fast as possible.
Whatever type of soil testing kit you choose, be it a meter for pH measurements, or a complete kit with information and how to test your own soil, it’s important for you to know this type of information not just because you want healthy plants, flowers, fruits, vegetables, etc. but also because you are responsible for healthy soil and the impact that any excess water/fertilizer may have on the soil itself.