Best soil tester for soil testing
Soil pH balance is one of the factors that allows plants to grow properly, and some crops will have different preferences for soil conditions. Adjusting the pH and nutrient balance in the soil is not a difficult task, but you need to first know what the problem is and have a goal in mind before improving the quality of the soil. For both cases, a soil tester or soil sensor is ideal that tells you exactly what state your soil is in and what it takes to turn your barren soil into a blooming plant masterpiece.
Spend five minutes on the Internet and you will find that there are a large number of these soil testers and kits on the market, and while some are obviously different, such as analog and digital products, there are also many that look the same. To help you through this article which parameters a soil tester can measure in the soil, and also to help you choose the kind of soil tester you need.
What you need to know about a soil tester
Although there are quite a few variations, the basic idea is the same- these devices will detect the current condition of your soil, and then let you know what that is. You can then use things like fertiliser, lime, and other products to bring the pH balance to where you need it, and add any nutrients you need.
Soil Testing Kit
As mentioned above, there are different types of kits, with some requiring you to take a soil sample and add it to a solution like with the Luster leaf digital soil testing kit, while others, just need you to stake the tester into the ground.
Not all testing kits give you the same information either, but most of them will let you know the pH level and how much of the main three nutrients, aka nitrogen (N), pHospHorus (P), and potassium(K), there is.
Some of the best kits will also give you a reading on the moisture levels and even what contaminants are present in your soil, and while these readings might not be 100% accurate, they are close enough for you to use when altering the state of your soil for the better.
Do I need to test my soil?
I’ve been asked this question so many times over the years, so I’ll give the same answer that I always have and that is-
Unless you want all your growing efforts to be analogous with a spin of the roulette table, you need to test you soil. Pure and simple.
You see, there are quite a few things that affect how well a certain plant or crop grows, and the more you know about these things the better. Makes sense, right? We already talked briefly about pH levels, and NPK, but didn’t really go into detail about it, and while I don’t want to risk droning on, I thought I’d just give a little more info on the three main types of tests you should do on your soil, and also give you a little video to watch on the subject:
Testing how acidic or alkaline your soil is, is essential for getting the results you are searching for, and it is not always a case of making sure that the reading you’re getting is neutral (between 6 and 7 on the scale).
While it is generally the case that plants and crops do well in a neutral soil condition, you will a get much better response if you tailor the soil’s pH to the liking of what you are trying to grow. For example, potatoes’ perfect soil pH is between 4.8 and 6, whereas some fruits, such as plums, prefer the soil being closer to the other end of the scale and even as high as pH8.
The two examples we just gave are just the tip of the iceberg, and you should definitely look into the optimal growing conditions for the things you are planting, and then use a testing kit- them JXCT digital soil pH meter for example, to see if your soil’s pH is in the required range. Trust me, it will make a huge difference.
Look on most fertiliser packaging and you’ll see the letters NPK and usually some kind of ratio too, such as 7-7-7, and this tells you the ratio of Nitrogen, pHospHorus, and potassium that the product contains.
These three macronutrients are essential for plant growth, and each has a part to play in the process. For example, nitrogen helps with photosynthesis where energy is taken from the sunlight, pHospHorus affects the development and growth of roots and can impact flowering and fruit yields. Then there is potassium which helps the plants internal systems, such as pHotosynthesis and cell development, keep ticking along like they should.
Testing your soil’s macronutrient levels will give you a better idea of which fertiliser products to use, as you can buy the ones with the NPK ratio to suit your needs. Again though, do some research and find out what kind of soil is best for certain types of plants and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Not all soil sensors will be able to give you NPK readings, and the ones that do usually need you to mix some soil in a solution before testing it. This is the case with the Luster leaf kit we review a little later in this article.
As important as getting the right NPK balance right is, those three nutrients aren’t the only things that your plants need to thrive. In fact, there are all kinds of other micronutrients that play an important role in plant and soil health, such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron to name but a few.
Again, the key is the correct balance and to ensure you have that means testing the soil. I have to say though, that finding a testing kit that will give you an accurate reading of micronutrients isn’t an easy task at all, and most kits will focus mainly on pH, moisture, and NPK.
Which type of soil testing kit should I buy?
There are a few options available to people wanting to test their soil, and just giving a simple answer to the question “which soil tester is the best?” just isn’t possible as there are variables that come into play.
Some testers are more accurate, some give faster results, and others are the simplest to use.