Soil testing kits have been around for so long. You can choose to go for the best soil test kit for healthy plant growth present on the market and pay a lot of money for it or, you can choose to go with the homemade soil testing that requires some baking soda and vinegar.
Whichever way you decide to go, the importance of testing your soil acidity and alkalinity remains the same. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself paying tons of money and putting hours upon hours of sweat, blood, and tears into your crop without getting the results that you want.
The Best Soil Test Kit Right Now
After a ton of research, we’ve handpicked some of the most promising soil testing kits you can find on the market. Keep in mind that you must focus on what kind of testing you need and how many tries you can get out of each kit when shaping up your decision.
Without any further ado, let’s get straight into our products and what each of them has to offer.
1. Best Overall: Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02
Our first pick is the Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02, and it’s genuinely an amazingly compact and lightweight device that gives you a simple, to-the-point idea about the state of your soil.
One of the many great attributes of this kit is the fact that it’s beginner-friendly. The interface is easily understood by everyone, and every piece of information is explained thoroughly.
As for the kit’s functions, it’s a 3-in-1 soil test kit, as in it tests sunlight and its penetration of the soil, the pH level, and the level of moisture in the soil.
3.5-8 pH range
7-8 optimum pH
2. Great Choice: Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit
Next in line, we’ve got an excellent choice to go with that covers almost all the basics that anyone would need to test to determine the state of the soil. That is the Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit.
This soil testing kit produces accurate results when testing for both macro and micronutrients, which is something that we don’t see often. Moreover, after it’s done with its analysis, it’ll break down the results for you.
For instance, it’ll tell you how much nitrogen is present in your soil; then, it’ll let you know how much nitrates and ammonium are present individually.
Results are almost identical to laboratory results
Expensive for a lot of folks
3. Best Analog: Luster Leaf 1880 Rapitest 4-Way Analyzer
Now, we’re onto our best choice in regards to analog soil testing kits, and that’s the Luster Leaf 1880 Rapitest 4-Way Analyzer, which can easily give you the statistics of the pH level, sunlight, and moisture levels in the soil.
Moreover, it tests for micronutrients using its four separate meters. Another kind of testing that it does is the soil fertility test that mainly involves nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
Furthermore, this analyzer is designed to be comfortable for everyone; beginners and experienced farmers alike. So, the device itself is large, easy to hold, and maneuver in your hand.
Four separate meters
Excellent beginner choice
4. Best Pro: Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil-Test Kit
Now, we’ll move on to a soil testing kit that can be labeled as the jack of all trades. The Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil-Test Kit is an amazing kit that gives you detailed and specific results incredibly fast.
Why is that? Simply because using the kit, you’d collect the sample and follow the instructions, then send it to Whitetail Institute Laboratory for them to analyze it.
Consequently, you’ll be receiving the analysis of all of the organic elements in your soil, as the kit can be used to analyze the levels of pH, and the presence or absence of micro and macronutrients.
Detailed specific results
Macro and micronutrients testing
Magnesium and calcium testing
One use per kit
Incompatible with lawns
5. Best Simple: Atree Soil 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit
If you don’t want to go through all of that back-and-forth with the company and wait for your results, then maybe a simpler path is more tailored towards your needs, and that’s where simpler testing kits such as the Atree Soil 3-in-1 Soil Tester Kit comes into play.
Now, this lightweight, compact device has double poles, enjoying the double-needle technology, which allows the device to capture accurate information in regards to the three essential aspects of any soil.
What’s more, the Atree soil tester works on all types of soils. Not to mention, it needs very little maintenance to perform.
Analyses light, soil moisture, and pH
Flimsy light meter
6. Best DIY: Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest® Soil Test Kit
Lastly, we have the Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit, with its wide coverage range and affordable price tag. This kit comes with multiple tests included and 40 capsules, allowing you to test several parts of your soil.
Furthermore, it gives quick, accurate results and comes with a pamphlet that explains the pH levels of 450+ different plants and the rhythm of their nutrient uptake.
Also, it offers quick solutions to soil problems, and only needs distilled water. On the other hand, it’s not specific to a certain problem, and disposing of the capsules can be a bit tough.
Quick and accurate results
Multiple tests included
Tough capsules management
How to Choose a Soil Test Kit
Types of Soil Test Kits
There are so many different types of soil testing kits, from DIY home kits all the way to laboratory testing that is done only by certified professionals and all that lies in between these two extremities. We’ll explore all of your options in detail.
In general, chemical testing relies on a chemical reaction that will happen when each reagent responds to a particular nutrient that you wish to measure in your soil, and the general rule is that you take a sample from your soil, put it in a tube, and add the reagent of choice to it.
Take the vile, shake it, and wait for the reaction to take place. Afterward, compare the color of the product that you have to the reference chart that would be included in the kit. Some chemical kits are a bit more advanced, and they require the addition of another substance to the agent to make it more accurate.
Unlike chemical testing kits, which are focused on the elements, mostly nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, digital testing kits are focused on the pH level. Some of them can give information regarding the nutrients level. Nevertheless, it’s not near as accurate as of that of the chemical testers.
With the digital testers, you’ll either have to insert the probe into the soil or if the kit comes with a vial, you’ll be making a solution or a slurry of soil and distilled water inside the said vial and inserting the probe there.
Analog soil testing kits are a bit like the digital ones. Yet, they use three probes at a time, as each one tests a certain variable. Mostly, these variables are the pH, soil moisture level, and sunlight absorbance.
The analog testers give a range of their tested variables, and they must be moved all over the soil area in order to get the most precise results possible. Plus, the probes ought to be cleaned and maintained properly in between uses.
This is the most accurate method that you can go with. But, this accuracy has a price as it can take up to a week or even more to get your results. Additionally, the process of collecting samples is way more complicated than what the other methods require of you.
To collect a suitable sample, you have to collect soil from various places in your land and mix that together thoroughly.
Next, you’ll need to let the sample dry completely, then preserve it till you get it to the laboratory. The thing about professional testing is that it provides several types of analysis, such as micro and macronutrient levels, in addition to analyzing the composition of your soil in regards to sand, clay, and silt percentages.
DIY Home Testing
When testing for the pH level of your soil, the perfect result that you can get is no results at all. You need two clean cups, half a cup of baking soda, half a cup of water, and a soil sample, of course.
Add equal parts of your soil to each container, and to the first container, add your half cup of vinegar. If a reaction takes place, and you start to see bubbles, your soil is too alkaline.
As for the other container, add your half cup water, mix it to form a slurry, then add your half cup of baking soda.
Types of Testing
We’ve mentioned that if micronutrients and micronutrients are balanced correctly, they can give the soil an incredible boost. Subsequently, it’s essential to test specifically for them. Then, you’ll be able to provide precisely what our land needs.
This type of testing goes in-depth, as it explores all that is present in your plants. It crosses the border of the standard nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus testing to include smaller elements like zinc, magnesium, calcium, and even different types of sulfates.
The point of micronutrient testing is the diligent analysis of our three main factors; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Each one of them has an essential role in the life of plants.
Nitrogen boosts the growth of leaves and stems and is stored in great amounts by different plants. As for potassium, it goes for the roots, allowing the plant to become stable and have better access to nutrients that might be stored in lower levels of the soil.
Nevertheless, too much of it will disrupt the roots. As for phosphorus, It’s all about the growth of flowers and, later on, fruits.
Soil pH Testing
Staying neutral when it comes to soil pH is definitely the best way to go, as around 99% of different plants prefer this environment and grow optimally in it. However, every rule has its own exceptions, and there are some plants that only grow in acidic environments or alkaline environments exclusively.
For these plants, it’s better to specialize certain parts of your land for their usage. With soil pH testing kits, all you need to do is grab a sample from your soil, put it in the device with water, and compare the color of the water to the reference.
Why Having a Soil Testing Kit Is Important
Boosts Soil Productivity
Having different kinds of soil testing kits gives you a better idea of your soil’s needs and reactions. Every patch of soil is different and can support certain types of plants.
Sometimes, what soil needs is crop rotation to boost its productivity. When you know what kind of nutrients and the normal level of pH present in your soil is, you’ll be able to decide on the best crops to rotate to maximize your own profit and work your soil without overworking it.
Fertilizers come in all shapes and sizes, but mostly they consist of the three main ingredients; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These three elements support plants in different ways, and when you already know what your soil has and what it lacks, you’ll pick the perfect fertilizer for your land and use it economically and wisely.
Overusing fertilizer isn’t a good thing. It might burn your plants if it has a high level of nitrogen, and it’ll also result in loss of resources.
Knowing the State of the Soil
Logically, using a soil testing kit will lead you to understand the state of your soil. It might need aeration, it might need to rest for a season or two, or you might even need to start mixing the type of soil you have with another type to enhance its productivity and help revive it a little bit.
There are so many procedures that can be done to have soil reach its optimum, and it all starts with a simple soil testing kit that’ll give you a more detailed look at what’s lying beneath your feet.
Figuring Out How to Improve the Soil
Most of our soil testing kits today come with guides, pamphlets, and brochures with all sorts of different information regarding how you can improve the quality of your soil, how you can adapt your soil to different plants, and general solutions to the more common soil problems.
Avoid Unnecessary Erosion
Unbalanced soil management is a problem that faces a lot of gardeners as the worst-case scenario is soil erosion which unfortunately happens to around 24 billion tons of fertile soil every year.
So, knowing the state of the elements in the soil, the pH, macronutrients, and micronutrients will allow you to start balancing out your soil like you need it to be.
Are Home Soil Test Kits Accurate?
Yes, they’re accurate, to a certain degree. However, they’ll really depend on the brand that you decide to purchase. More often than not, the specific kit that you intend to buy will have a rating of its accuracy in percentage printed on it. Search diligently for that number before you purchase any kits.
Is It Possible to Get a Free Soil Test?
Many universities and colleges offer free services in different fields that they teach in order to educate their students.
Fortunately, this is the case for agriculture colleges, so you can visit the nearest school to your location and have one of the students analyze your soil for you for free in exchange for documenting the experience so that they can add it to their portfolio for extra credit.
Which Soil pH Tester Is Best?
Undoubtedly, the Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 will take the crown as it produces the most incredibly accurate results in regards to pH testing.
It also boasts an easy, beginner-friendly interface that won’t frighten anyone. Furthermore, it’s affordable, and since it’s a 3-in-1 kit, you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Can You Test Soil at Home?
Yes, of course, you can test your soil at home using a few products easily in any kitchen, which are vinegar water and sodium bicarbonate. It’s an incredibly simple process that won’t take you more than half an hour.
As we’ve discussed before, you create a solution of either vinegar and water or sodium bicarbonate and water, drop equal amounts of soil in each, and wait for your results.
Are Cheap Soil pH Meters Accurate?
The accuracy of a soil pH meter doesn’t depend on price but rather on the type. And, we’ve discussed the different types of pH meters before.
The cheapest type that we’ve got will have to be the strip tests which are more or less advanced litmus paper. To be honest, they’re accurate to an end, but the problem lies with the calibration of the color that you are receiving.
How Do I Know My Soil Type?
Your soil type can be one of six: sand, clay, silt, peat, chalk, or loams. Let’s quickly get to know the trademarks of each type.
If you have sandy soil, you’ll be able to see and feel the sand more than anything else, and the thing about sand is that this stuff, no matter what you do to it, can’t be shaped.
How Can I Test the pH of My Water Without a Kit?
We go back again to the kitchen for this little experiment. Fetch a cabbage and cut it up into pieces, then place it in a bowl. Boil two cups of distilled water, take the distilled water and pour it over the cut cabbage. Cover the bowl and leave it for an hour and thirty minutes.
Then, you’ll notice that the color of the distilled water is changing to a red-purple shade.
What Is the Fastest Way to Lower pH in Soil?
In case of wanting to lower the pH for soil quickly, we turn towards the elements. Here, we can use aluminum as it easily dissolves in the ground and spreads quite fast. We can also utilize sulfur as it has so many variants, and according to its purity, the soil will go down in terms of pH level.
What Is the Optimal Time for Soil Testing?
Any gardener should know when to test their soil to get the most accurate results. The general rule is to test your soil right before you start planting your seeds, hence, guaranteeing optimal conditions for them.
Different plants have different seasons, so you must know what you’re planting, where you’re planting it, and how exactly you’re going to test the soil. You also need to know what kind of results you’re aiming for.
Can You Test Your Soil at Any Time?
The state of your soil is greatly dependent on the weather; hence it passes through times of activity and dormancy in regards to its nutrients and pH level.
There’s no harm in testing the soil whenever it looks a bit rough, so you can deal with any problems as soon as they happen. Your soil might end up needing one of many procedures such as aeration to improve its quality.
What Happens When pH Becomes Way Too Acidic in the Soil?
Firstly, any imbalance in the pH levels of the soil will lead to stunted growth and general soil toxicity, which is bound to affect the absorption of the plants quite negatively; but, in different ways.
For instance, when the pH is way too acidic, the plants might die due to a deficiency of calcium and molybdenum, which can cause chlorotic blotches. That will lead to leaves’ cupping as they grow much thicker than their normal.
What Happens When pH Becomes Way Too Alkaline in the Soil?
When the pH is way too alkaline, the plants will lose their ability to absorb certain nutrients.
Moreover, you’ll be facing incredible microorganism imbalance as the alkaline micro-organism will gain the upper hand while the others will die out. Also, you’ll lose every chance at the species’ balance as the alkaline plant will flourish while others degenerate due to many things, such as molybdenum build-up.
- The Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 is our top pick with double-needle detection technology and battery-free operation.
- Another good choice is the Soil Savvy – Soil Test Kit. It’s accurate and can analyze macro and micronutrient analysis.
- Go for the Luster Leaf 1880 Rapitest 4-Way Analyzer for a fast analog tester.