Best Soil Test Kit
Whether you’re an avid gardener or just simply growing a few plants at home, it is just natural for you to ensure that your soil is healthy so your plants can thrive well!
Well, guess what? You can monitor your soil’s health by using soil test kits!
But what could be the best soil test kit for you? What are the details you need to check when choosing soil test kits?
Let us take a closer look at various soil test kits and examine each of their pros and cons so you can choose wisely.
Read our Best Soil Test Kit Review to find out.
- Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash, 1 Pack (Editors choice - High Quality)
- Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit (3.5-9 Range) (Runner up)
- Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit (Amazing Price)
- Healthywiser Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit For Moisture, Light & pH (Affordable Product)
- Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester Gardening Tool Kits (Great Product)
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash, 1 Pack
Many users found this soil test kit to be very useful because of its good performance. All the existing levels of the basic macronutrients N, P, K, including the pH level of your soil can be examined with this test kit. It features a color comparator and capsule system purposely designed for rapid and accurate testing. If you got the pH reading, you may refer to its pH preference list for about 450 plants. Included also are complete set of instructions on how to fertilize your soil given the results. How cool is that?
Additionally, the test kit is very user-friendly! You just need to collect a small amount of soil sample, place inside the test container, add some water and test capsules, then then shake it. After a short while, when the soil has settled down, you can already compare the resulting color of the liquid with the color chart.
A single test kits already comes with 40 test capsules which means 10 for every pH, N, P, and K. This should be enough to do multiple tests.
Some however noted minor complaints in transferring the capsule powder inside test containers which topple down easily because of its unstable and rounded base.
For those looking for speedy results without the hassle of having to submit soil samples to a lab, and maintain a good level of accuracy, this would be a fantastic choice. Considering the price range, it would be a great value for money.
- Fast results
- Easy-to-read instructions
- Accurate readings
- Dedicated testers for each soil element
- Sufficient number of test capsules
- With color comparator charts
- Capsules sometimes stick together
- Test containers easily topple down
Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Strips Kit (3.5-9 Range)
As the name suggests, this soil test kit is primarily devoted to keeping the pH of your soil in its appropriate level. Unlike universal test strips, this one provides fairly accurate soil pH readings.
By knowing the pH level of your soil, you can then make necessary modifications to its pH level through lime and sulfur application. The great thing with this kit is that it comes with guide charts so you will know how much of it you are going to add on the soil, depending on what your plants need.
The procedure in using this kit is also relatively simple. Just collect a small sample from your soil and place it in a large container. Place 8 tablespoons of the soil into a plastic cup and mix with 8 tablespoons of water for 30 seconds. After the mixed solution has settled down, dip the strip and hold it for 3 seconds. You can then match the color pads to the color chart to determine your soil’s pH. This product is simple yet effective for gardeners.
Color matching could be challenging as you might need a well-lighted space to get the most accurate color possible. If you find it difficult to read the color, you may need to repeat the procedure until a satisfactory color comes out.
- Easy and straightforward to use
- Accurate results
- Includes a color reference chart
- Includes lime and sulfur application charts
- Purchasable test strips
- Not good for use in clay soils
- Needs distilled water
Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit
If food plot is your game, this might provide excellent support. This particular soil test kit specializes in propagation of food plot in larger areas, depending also on what animals will feed on it.
Unlike other do-it-yourself testers, you will submit the samples you collected to Whitetail’s laboratory for thorough analysis. In sending samples to Whitetail, you would have to shoulder the shipping fee which an additional expense on your end.
The good thing about this kit is that not only the basic macronutrients and soil pH level are being checked but also the micronutrients like calcium magnesium and zinc.
The laboratory does not just stop there. It provides additional service of giving you feedback on the fertilizers your soil needs based on the test conducted. They will provide you with either a printed report or email a soft copy to you, depending on your preference.
A certain group of people however have raised issues on the delayed feedback on the results. While the company commits to sending you results within the week, there are those who have waited for weeks and months before the results have arrived. This is indeed quite a long time for you and your plant to wait.
If you opt to entrust the testing process to the laboratory, and can afford to wait a little longer, this test kit might be a good choice.
- Instructions are provided in the kit
- High accuracy
- Provides in-depth and detailed scientific reports
- Results can be emailed
- Provide data on other nutrients
- Longer waiting time for test results
- Sample might get lost
- Not ideal for small gardens or lawns
Healthywiser Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Test Kit For Moisture, Light & pH
As one of the commonly used soil test kits, a lot of people prefer it mainly because it is simple to use and very portable. You will be surprised that despite its small size, it can do great things!
This test kit focuses on three main parameters: moisture, pH & light. The device is connected with two probes that capture the moisture & pH levels of your soil. The moisture level will give you an idea if you need to water the plant or not.
If pH levels are not within range, you can then make adjustments to the soil. A light measurement sensor is also embedded in the device which signals if your plant needs more light. This is a fairly easy-to-use device indeed!
While it is easy to use, others have expressed concern on the quality of the probes. Forcing the fork probes into hardened soils or those with hard objects underneath can damage it and can affect its sensors. Also, If inserted in the soil for prolonged periods of time, the soil might corrode the probe. Every after use, it is important to clean it with a clean cloth.
Another great thing about this test kit though is that it doesn’t require any batteries so you won’t have to buy extra ones.
If you want to monitor their soil’s health without hassle using a simple device, this might do the job.
- Easy to use
- Great use for indoor and outdoor
- Easily determines watering frequency
- Reliable moisture reading
- No batteries required
- No info on macronutrient levels
- Probes break easily
- Reading scale too small to read
Sonkir Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester Gardening Tool Kits
Just like what an X-ray machine does for people, this tester provides an X-ray vision on the moisture and pH level of your soil so you will know if your plants are getting enough sunlight and moisture.
The device works fine for both indoor and outdoor uses. Since it is very light weight, you can easily carry it around and try it on every pot in your home.
This tester will not be a burden because it won’t require any batteries. You can keep using it for long as it is in good condition!
The reading scale of this tester is somewhat small which might not be favorable for those with eye problems.
Many people have issues using this because of its low accuracy in checking moisture, pH and light requirement. The light sensor in the device is more of detecting the heat it comes in contact with so it might not directly reflect the need for sunlight.
The probes can also be a thing of concern as it might break when in forceful contact with hard soil or objects so you need to be extra careful. Also, the probes will have to be cleaned after usage so it will not get corroded and can still make a decent reading.
- Fast moisture & pH analysis
- Easy to use
- No batteries needed
- Will not work well for dry soils
- Hard soil can damage probes
- Needs regular cleaning
Why Do You Need to Test Your Soil?
Many people hastily start planting without even checking first the current condition of the soil which may lead to poor plant growth.
The truth is we are not fully aware of any deficiencies in the soil just by simply looking at or even touching it. You may have tried touching your soil with your hands to assess moisture but this is subjective and does not give the accurate moisture level.
Furthermore, soil conditions can vary in one piece of property as you might sometimes observe that there are plants thriving on one portion while some are dying on the other. There are soils that hold water efficiently while there are those that can drain it off easily.
Therefore, in order to determine your soil’s present state, deficiencies and lacking nutrients, a test kit would be helpful.
Simply put, you need to test your soil so you will know if what you have is enough or still needs improvement before you start planting.
What Important Elements Does Your Soil Need?
Just like our bodies need vitamins and minerals for nutrition and strength, plants also need their own for growth and sustainability. Your plants derive these nutrients from the soil they are planted on. The important macronutrients your soil requires are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen is a key contributor in the photosynthesis of plants, promoting growth of its leaves and stems. Also, it is a major part of amino acids which comprise the proteins needed for the plant’s strength and durability.
Phosphorus plays a major role in the development of fruits and flowers. Excessive amounts of these nutrients can cause unnecessary overproduction of flowers which is stressful for the plant.
Potassium on the other hand is in-charge of strengthening the plant’s roots. Deficient potassium will lead to stunted growth caused by small root systems.
Aside from the three macronutrients, your soil must be within a pH range that is compatible with the plant. Majority of the plants require a neutral soil around 6 to 7 pH, but some plants thrive well in more acidic soils. The pH level will act as a gate that affects the availability of nutrients for your plant.
Different Types of Soil Testers
These soil testers involve subjecting the collected soil samples with water and chemicals. The resulting color will then be compared to a color chart to determine its nutrient or pH level. While this provides a visual appreciation, the number of uses will be limited depending on how much capsules or strips are provided. Once totally consumed, you will need to purchase again a new kit.
The digital-type testers are popular because of its convenience of use. Typically, the devices feature a digital screen where you can easily read the levels. Probes are also installed to detect moisture and pH levels in the soil.
In this case, the collected samples are submitted to a laboratory with equipment that can run in-depth analysis of nutrient content and pH levels. Moreover, it can provide more comprehensive reports on the soil samples taken, as compared to home testers.
Six Factors to Consider in Choosing Soil Test Kits
For a first-timer, it may seem daunting to choose from a wide range of different soil test kits. However, you need to consider the following factors:
While the general objective of soil test kits is checking the health your soil, each has their own unique purpose. For example, some soil test kits focus on macronutrients, others on pH levels while others specialize in moisture. A good soil test kit must be well-rounded and gives you a greater insight on the condition of your soil.
The actual performance of the soil test kit must also be considered. This is why we must do a prior investigation if these particular test kits have given customers what they have promised.
Ease of Use
This is where the soil tester’s manageability and portability come in. When using any device, you would want something that is easy to learn and handle.
The more accurate the results the better. You do not want to apply any understated or overstated adjustments in your soil as it will be detrimental for your plant.
Speed of Results
You would not want to wait for a decade to know the actual results. Your plant deserves fast results so you can provide corresponding treatment immediately.
Just like any other device or equipment, you would want it to be fairly priced or a price that is reasonable for the service it makes.
Now that you are aware of the essential nutrients your soil needs, as well as the pros and cons of each soil test kit, it will be easier for you to choose which one works best for you.
For the most well-rounded soil test kit, I will have to consider the Luster Lead Rapitest Soil Test Kit. It deserves its spot because it could gauge macronutrients and pH levels without having to go to a laboratory like that of Whitetail Institute Laboratory Test Kit. Furthermore, the results can be obtained faster rather than waiting for a sample test from the laboratory.
Compared to the probe testers of Healhywiser and Sonkir, it does not have mechanical or electrical parts so there is no risk of malfunction. Lastly, the Garden Tutor pH test kit is solely focused on pH readings but does not give info on macronutrients.
Do not get pressured but buy only what you need. If it does the job, then it’s fine!
Your plants will go a long way if your soil is truly in quality condition. You just need the have the soil test kit that is perfect for the job that you want.