Most gardening enthusiasts know what their plants need to thrive. But how can you tell if your garden has everything it needs? Test the soil, of course!
An easy-to-use and quick soil test kit is all that’s needed to learn about your soil’s chemical properties and nutrient deficiencies. But how do you choose the right kit?
Well, that’s where we come in!
In this article, we provide you with everything you need to know about the importance of testing your soil as well as a review of 4 best soil test kits you can buy online.
- What is a Soil Test Kit?
- 4 Best Soil Test Kits Reviews
- 1. XLUX Soil Moisture Tester
- 2. Healthy Wiser 3-In-1 Light, Moisture, Soil pH Tester
- 3. Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Test Kit
- 4. Sonkir Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1 Soil Tester
- What are the Benefits of Soil Test Kits?
- How to Use a Soil Tester?
- When Should You Test Your Soil?
- Conclusion Best Soil Test Kits
What is a Soil Test Kit?
A healthy lawn, flower bed, or pot plant needs the right environment for vibrant growth, including high-quality nutrients and good soil. By using a soil test kit, you can measure the condition of your soil as well as the pH level, to decide which fertilizers are needed for optimum growth.
While soil test kits vary in appearance, most of them work in a similar manner using test tubes, chemical reaction sensors, distilled water, or plug-ins with a small soil sample.
This is the most important nutrient that all plants need to convert sunlight into energy. Nitrogen supports the plant’s amino acids, and without it, a plant can’t make the proteins and even its DNA to grow.
This nutrient plays an essential role in energy storage and cell growth. Without it, a plant won’t mature properly.
To help control the movement of nutrients, carbohydrates, and water in plant tissues, potassium, or Potash is needed to regulate photosynthesis.
Soil pH levels
Most plants need soil pH level of between 6.5 and 7.0 to thrive.
Types Of Soil Testers
There are 3 main types of soil testers you can choose from as listed below:
Analog soil test kits
This type of tester uses up to 3 metal probes to analyze the soil. By placing the metal probes into a growing medium, the natural electrical charges in the soil or grow medium is picked up by the probes and registered by way of a measurement, such as pH level, how much sunlight the soil is receiving, or soil moisture.
Digital Soil test kits
These testers are a little more tricky to get the hang of than the analog type. They use an electrical charge to test the soil composition and require batteries to operate the device. Before and after using these testers, be sure to thoroughly clean the probes with soap and water.
Chemical Soil test kits
These types of testers require you to place a small amount of soil in a special container and add water. You then add a dye capsule or droplet and shake it, the water will change color to match indicate its composition.
4 Best Soil Test Kits Reviews
Here are 4 top soil test kits we’ve handpicked for you with pros and cons of each tester:
This soil tester from XLUX solely focuses on testing your soil’s moisture. Simply insert the probes into the soil to obtain the result immediately. (Be sure to clean the probes after use).
The design of this tester stands out from other kits as it uses a large and clear dial for readings and 10 scales, making it perfect for people who require a large easy to read dial.
Another great feature of this sensor meter is that it comes with an 18-month warranty, which is a big plus!
With the majority of users finding this soil moisture tester easy to use and of good quality, we can safely say it is our star product.
- Large dial makes it easier to read measurements
- Long warranty period, which is rare for soil kits
- No batteries required
- Limited features for a relatively high price
With this 3-in-1 soil test kit, you get to measure the light, acidity, and moisture levels of your soil. The easy-to-read, compact device from Healthy Wiser works both indoors and outdoors. And since no batteries are required to use this analog tester, you save money and time. Simply dip the metal rods into the moist soil sample to get the readings.
The soil test meter claims to help green-thumbed fans prevent overwatering, pest attacks, and root damage. We found the soil meter easy to use and accurate for moisture and light readings, but not as accurate for pH/acidity compared to others in our test.
- Scientifically accurate readings for moisture and light
- Moisture, Light, and Soil pH meter all in one
- Not the most accurate pH tester reading
This innovative soil test kit from Luster Leaf is perhaps one of the most comprehensive testers you can find on the market. With an attached color chart, which many other kits lack, you will get 4 color-coded containers that represent nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and pH levels separately.
In addition to the 4 containers, you will also get 40 capsules and a dropper to test your soil, with a handy guide on fertilization and an information pack for different plants’ desired pH levels.
And if you were worried about losing your color chart, the good news is; it’s right on the test unit!
How to use: simply take a small sample of the soil and put it into the tube. Add some distilled water and the appropriate capsule. Shake it and let it sit until the color has fully changed.
- The containers make it easy to stay organized
- You can test more components quicker
- Easy to follow instructions
- Product is limited to 40 soil tests
This is another convenient 3-in-1 testing kit for analyzing soil pH, moisture, and light levels. All you need to do is to adjust the needle detector to the content you are testing before inserting the prongs into 2-4 inches of soil. The reading will appear on the upper panel of the soil tester after 10 minutes.
Just like many other testing kits that use a needle to display the amount, the Sonkir tester doesn’t require batteries to operate. Note: as you’ll be inserting the needles directly into the soil, be sure to clean them after use. The majority of users were pleased with the consistent accuracy of this tester.
- Moisture, Light, and Soil pH meter all in one
- No batteries required
- Lightweight and portable
- A little flimsy in construction
What are the Benefits of Soil Test Kits?
Only a soil test kit can help you understand your soil’s needs by measuring how much salt is in the soil, diagnosing soil pH levels, and analyzing the organic materials present.
As a green-fingered fan, you should never wait for signs of poor vegetative growth before testing your soil. Just like a routine health check, soil testing should be done often to identify what your soil deficiencies may be and which nutrients are replenished through the growing season. Only then will you know which fertilizers you should use.
Healthy soil needs three main components: potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen for ideal plant growth. It should be moist and soft so the roots can travel easier. If it’s too dry, it needs watering more consistently. If there are not enough nutrients, add the essential components by way of fertilizers. Rather than guessing what your soil needs, a test kit will save you time and money by giving you accurate readings.
How to Use a Soil Tester?
Most chemical soil testers are straightforward as long as you follow the instructions. If you’re using a capsule or powder test, all that’s required is to add the amount and mix well.
Once you’ve prepared the mix, make sure it goes thoroughly into the soil sample and allow it to sit for a few minutes. The soil should change color quite quickly thereafter so you’ll know immediately what nutrients you need to add.
If you want to test the moisture level of your soil, it’s best not to leave the sample out of the ground as it will dry out and not give you accurate results. So the sooner you test the soil moisture, the better.
If you’re testing the soil using a liquid tester, simply add the liquid to the test sample by mixing or shaking it into the soil. Leave the sample to sit for 10 minutes. The soil/water mixture should change colors expressing its chemical make-up.
Macronutrient testing determines the main nutrients that your soil is lacking. Most fertilizers have a string of numbers (N-P-K) that tell you what the ratios of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen are. However, what these fertilizers can’t tell you is whether your soil has too much of these nutrients to start with.
It is, therefore, important to perform macronutrient testing of your soil, to establish if it needs an adjustment of nitrogen, potassium, or phosphorus.
What most people tend to forget is the micronutrient needs of their soil. The vast majority of commercial soil testers only analyze the basic nutrients, moisture, and acidity, but there are other nutrients that your plants also need to grow. Some of these micronutrients include iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. Deficiencies can lead to a plant not being able to use micro-nutrients effectively. Very similar to humans eating multi-vitamins.
Soil pH Meter
Testing the acidity and alkalinity of your soil is another important part of your soil analysis. Most plants prefer soil pH of between 6.0 and 7.0 as their ideal range. Depending on what type of plant you’re growing, you will need to adjust the pH level of your soil based on the reading of the test kit.
pH Testing Step by Step Guide
You can test your soil’s pH levels at any time to determine how effectively your soil can hold nutrients. Just follow these simple steps to test your soil’s pH levels:
Step 1. If you working in the garden use a hand shovel, dig 3 to 4 inches below the lawn surface to obtain a soil sample. Or simply take a sample from your pot plant.
Step 2. Remove any debris from the soil.
Step 3. Add 1 cup of water to the soil until it turns into mud.
Step 4. Now transfer some of the solution to the color comparator provided by the test kit.
Step 5. Add the powder and shake it. The result only takes a few minutes!
When Should You Test Your Soil?
The best time to test your soil depends on the plants you are growing. Different plants have different growing seasons, but to give you an idea, it’s best to test your soil before planting in the spring. A soil test before seeding in spring will inform you of what you need to add to your soil for a healthier growing season.
It is also recommended to test your soil again in the fall. Since the winter season takes its toll on the plants and the soil, testing helps prepare accordingly. Only a soil test will tell you what the nutrients you need to add to the soil before the cold weather sets in.
In addition to spring and fall, you should also test your soil whenever your plants go through environmental changes, such as heavy rains, cold snaps, and heat waves as all these factors can play a huge role in the soil’s health. To ensure consistent environments, test the moisture levels during this time.
As a rule of thumb, soil samples should be taken around 2 or 3 months before planting to ensure you have plenty of time to apply the right nutrients and adjust your soil’s pH level. While soil tests can be done at any time of the year, spring and fall are the ideal seasons. Just make sure you do the testing at the same time each year or every 2 years. Soils changes, so you need to keep in touch with its flow.
Conclusion Best Soil Test Kits
A great way of starting a new garden or keeping an old one in a healthy condition is by using a soil tester. Only the best soil test kits can help you understand the nutrients your soil needs and in what quantity.
By taking regular samples at the right intervals, you’ll be able to improve crop maturity and increase its tolerance to pests and disease. Get the best out of your plants, flowers, and vegetables by choosing the best soil test kit, and adjust your soil to meet your crop’s needs.