If you enjoy gardening, you probably already know how important nutrients are to help your plants grow and thrive. However, without knowing exactly which nutrients are present in your soil – and which are absent – it is incredibly difficult to fertilize or amend your soil. Therefore, it’s worth asking yourself whether to invest in a best soil test kit.
A soil testing kit will help you determine the levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in your soil. Not only will the best soil test kit help you evaluate the levels of those nutrients, but they’ll help you determine what to add to adjust the pH of your soil, too.
If you’re buying a soil tester for the first time, you might be confused about the accuracy and terminology thrown around in every soil test kit review. Do you really need a professional soil test kit or a digital soil tester? Will a basic home soil test kit, like the soil test kits Lowes sells, get the job done, too?
We’ve gone through all the best soil nutrient testers to find the best soil test kit for you to consider.
|Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Test Kit for Soil pH, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potash||Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil-Test Kit||Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Testing Kit|
|Best Value||Best Overall Professional Tester||Best Digital Tester|
| Image: || Image:|| Image:|
1. Easy to use and understand
2. Comes with several tests so you don’t need to buy additional kits
3. Measured values available for nutrient testing - not just deficient or sufficient
1. Easy to follow instructions make soil sample collection easy
2. Soil is professionally checked and evaluated
3. Accurate readings and personalized recommendations are sent within one week
1. Easy to use and quick to operate
2. Directions are clear and understandable with recommendations for a variety of soil types
3. Can make recommendations for over 450 plants
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
The Reasons Why You Need to Buy a Soil Test Kit
Before you can add nutrients to your soil, you need to know the levels of pH and TDS (total dissolved solids) that are in your soil. This will determine the porosity, fertility, and overall growing capacity of your soil and let you know exactly what you need to add for it to be healthy.
The best soil test kits will tell you which plants grow best in the soil you have, and will help you identify the best plants so that you don’t suffer from a disappointing crop failure. Soil testing helps you avoid over – or under-fertilization, making sure your plants are able to withstand diseases and fight other issues related to soil malnutrition.
What Do Soil Testers Test For?
There are countless measures that soil test kits can determine. The best soil testers will evaluate the content of macro- and micronutrients in your soil, as well as things like soil pH, temperature, and conductivity. Soil testers can be used in your raised beds, soil directly on the ground, or even in the potting soil in your containers.
When testing your soil, the most important thing to keep an eye on is your soil pH. Once you know the soil pH, you can figure out an appropriate method for fertilizing your plants. pH should be between one and fourteen – a perfectly neutral reading will be seven. If it is under seven, you have acidic soil that could benefit from the addition of limestone. If it is above seven, you have alkaline soil that could benefit from the addition of sulfur.
Of course, if you are growing plants that thrive in acidic settings (like daffodils, heathers, blueberries, or rhododendrons), you can keep an acidic pH where it is. Similarly, if you want to grow alkaline-loving plants like honeysuckle, hyacinth, or daisies, you should let alkaline soil remain untouched, too.
You should also measure the conductivity of your soil. This is another way of saying you are measuring the total dissolved solids in the soil. Once you know your pH, you know what kind of fertilizer you need to add – measuring conductivity allows you to determine how much fertilizer you need. By measuring the amount of nutrients in the soil, this kind of soil sample kit will help make quick work of estimating quantities of fertilizers needed.
The best soil test kits will measure micronutrients in addition to macronutrients. Macronutrients, also known as nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K), are standard ingredients in all fertilizers. Most soil testing kits will tell you how whether your plants are deficient in any of these ingredients.
However, not as many soil testers look at micronutrients. Many home soil test kits don’t check anything beyond nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. Yet it can be extremely beneficial to know what other nutrients your soil is deficient in, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, or zinc. The best soil test kit will check for both macronutrients and micronutrients.
Finally, you may also want to look for a lawn soil test kit that measures the temperature of the soil. Because certain crops need certain temperature sin order to germinate, it is important that you test the soil temperature at the plant depth to analyze how well your plants will grow.
What Should I Look for in a Soil Analysis Kit?
Clearly, accuracy is the most important factor to look at when you are shopping for a soil testing kit. You should look for one that carries out its designated duties with the greatest proficiency. While some soil testers can measure pH at a resolution as low as 0.001 pH units, others can only read at +/- 2 pH units. The smaller the soil tester can read, the better.
The same theory applies for things like macronutrient readings and soil conductivity. While there can often be a bit more variability in regards to these factors (they won’t have as big of an impact on your application of fertilizer as will a poor pH reading), if you are hoping to test one variable in particular, it may be worth it to invest in a soil analysis kit that is designed specifically to read that variable.
That leads us to the next feature you should consider when purchasing a soil test kit. You should make sure the soil test kit you choose is designed to figure out the specific variable you want to measure. While some soil testers market themselves as good one-size-fits-all testers, this is not always the case – some soil test kits are better at measuring moisture, while other professional soil test kits are exceptional gauges of macronutrients. Take the time to consider which units of measurement are most important to you.
Finally, you should also consider the durability and overall maintenance required by your product. Obviously, if you use a homemade test kit or a chemical soil test kit, you aren’t going to have to worry much about caring for your gear. However, if you buy a digital soil tester, you will have to do some extra work to keep the unit clean and functioning well.
Price and Longevity
A home soil test kit can be one that will last for multiple uses, or a single-use item. Therefore, you might want to consider paying a bit more for a product so that you can get more uses out of it, rather than having to re-purchase new soil test kits every season.
Most soil testing kits are easy to maintain and care for. However, make sure you read the specific instructions included with your soil tester carefully, as these can vary among models. You will want to use the calibration solution recommended with that type of home soil test kit, and you should also make sure you clean and store the unit correctly.
Types of Soil Test Kits
Not all soil test kits are made alike. From digital soil testers to professional soil test kits, there are options out there to suit every style, budget, and plant type. Here is a basic overview to help you get started.
Chemical Soil Testers
These soil testers are relatively straightforward – and if you remember back to high school science classes, this is probably the type of soil testing with which you are most familiar. To use a chemical soil test, all you need to do is place a small piece of soil into a vial, add some water, and then drop a colored capsule into the container. The lid of the vial will correspond to the soil nutrient is meant to test for.
Once you have dropped the soil into the container, you will shake it and then wait. The color will then be compared to a range of colors on a chart so you can get an idea of where your soil falls. While there are more advanced tests that ask you to add a few drops of chemicals to a vial, these are more thorough and test for more variables
Chemical soil tests aren’t always the most reliable or accurate tests you might find, but they give you a basic idea of what you are looking for. They do, unfortunately, have a limited number of uses -once you use up the capsules, you’re done with the soil testing kit.
Digital Soil Testers
A digital soil tester can be a bit more challenging to use, but it’s also fairly reliable.These often require batteries – though not always – and use electricity to test for components in the soil. You will have to clean this type of soil tester quite thoroughly, but you can reuse them time after time – which will save you money down the road. That’s a good thing, as these types of soil testers tend to be much more expensive.
Digital testers are inserted directly into the soil, and can usually test for things like moisture content (letting you know whether you need to give the soil a light sprinkle with the garden hose), lighting level, and pH. You can find a terrific overview of the best soil pH testers by reading this article.
Professional Soil Test Kits
If you depend heavily on the results of your soil test, you may want to send them away to a professional in a laboratyrsetting. Obviously, this is the most reliable and most accurate method of testing your soil – but it’s also the most expensive.
That being said, a professional soil test kit is not always the most accurate, as it depends on your ability to take samples from multiple spots and drying them out completely. However, as long as you are diligent about collecting your soil samples in the appropriate fashion, the rest of the process is out of your hands. You send the tests a way to the lab, where scientists can test for potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and even micronutrients like sulfur, copper, and managense.
Professional soil test kits offer gardeners myriad benefits, but timeliness is not one of them. It can take several weeks to receive the results from a soil test back, so if you’re in a hurry, this is not the best method.
Plus, unless you’re able to connect with a free soil testing service, professional soil testing is often not cost-effective. Sometimes you can send your sample to a local agricultural extension or a college, which may or may not offer free testing services.
Homemade Soil Sample Kits
The final – but definitely least reliable – method of testing your soil is to create a basic home pH test. Obviously, you won’t be able to test for micronutrients or other sensitive variable,s but you should be able to get an idea of how acidic your soil is by whipping up a homemade test. All you’ll need is the soil, some clean containers, baking soda, white vinegar, and distilled water.
7 Best Soil Test Kits
This soil test kit is one of the best you will find, helping to save you both time and money while allowing for optimal reliability. This garden soil tester kit is actually a professional kit, and it comes with a professional consultation with your purchase of the product.
When you purchase the Whitetail Kit, you receive everything you need to get started. You will get one sample per kit and is designed for use in food plots, raised beds, and other areas. You take a sample of your soil and mail it in, and when you get the results back you will also receive a professional analysis by mail or email. This usually arrives in just one week, which is a fast turn-around time for laboratory testing.
This test kit is a popular choice for farmers and other professional growers, as it helps save you money on fertilizer. It’s extremely reliable, producing accurate results. If you’re new to gardening, this soil nutrient tester is a good way to go because you will receive personally tailored suggestions as to what type of fertilizer to use for planting various kinds of plants.
What We Liked:
- Easy to follow instructions make soil sample collection easy
- Soil is professionally checked and evaluated
- Accurate readings and personalized recommendations are sent within one week
What We Didn’t Like:
- Results are not immediate
This inexpensive soil test kit is a great option for determining a range of soil properties, such as pH, nutrient levels, and more. It’s a professional kit that works well with accurate readings. It can be used as a lawn soil test kit or a garden soil tester kit.
This soil test kit, which is enclosed in a rigid plastic carrying case, comes with a thorough instructional booklet to help you quickly test your soil. It is great for professional or classroom use, and has 40 different tests, including ten tests for soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Unfortunately, it doesn’t test for factors like soil moisture or lighting, for which you would need a digital soil tester.
That being said, this soil testing kit is easy to use, affordable, and a great option for a backyard gardener or teacher.
What We Liked:
- Includes 40 different tests, allowing you to reuse the test kit multiple times per season
- Accurate readings of pH and macronutrient content
- Comes in a sturdy carrying case to protect it from the elements
What We Didn’t Like:
- You must go at least four inches into the soil to get a good reading.
The Environmental Concepts 1662 Soil Testing Kit is one of the best soil tests kits you will find. It also comes in a rigid, rugged carrying case so that you can take it with you wherever you need to test your soil. It comes with a handy instructional booklet to tell you the best ways to use your kit as well as how to get the maximum use out of it in your garden.
This test kit provides accurate, speedy results, helping you determine what you need to add to your soil to help your plants grow. It is an affordable and popular choice for the professional gardener or farmer, as well as for a teacher in a classroom.
This soil tester comes with components for 40 tests, including ten each for soil pH, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Because you receive multiple test kits, you can test your garden several times in just a single season.The product comes with a pH preference list to let you know the ideal ranges for different types of plants, as well as tailored tips for gardening and how to alter your particular soil conditions.
What We Liked:
- Comes with an instructional booklet and growing recommendations
- Quick results in just a few minutes
- Easy to use, even for small children
What We Didn’t Like:
- Plastic filtration device has a tendency to split at the sea
This premium kit measures pH, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. While it unfortunately doesn’t micronutrients, it is a great product that works quickly – much more quickly than sending your soil off to the lab! It can take a few moments for your results to appear, but otherwise, the tests are easy to perform.
If you’re having trouble using this soil tester, not to worry – the product comes with a handy instructional booklet telling you how to perform the tests, step by step. It comes in a rigid plastic carrying case and you can purchase refills for the various test agents.
What We Liked:
- Quick to use and easy to read
- Replacement tests available
- Great educational kit for young students
What We Didn’t Like:
- Does not tell you specific levels of nutrients or pH – just whether the soil is deficient or sufficient
Soil Savvy is a popular brand when it comes to soil testing, offering users the level of testing they would get at a commercial-level professional lab. It gets you your results quickly, and can show levels of both macronutrients and micronutrients.
This garden soil tester kit is one of the best soil test kits, offering readings of nitrogen, nitrate, ammonium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur, iron, sodium, zinc, managense, boron, copper, and aluminium. It will make fertilizer recommendations for you, letting you know which synthetic and organic fertilizers would be best for your soil type. It will even tell you how much fertilizer you need to apply!
If you’re new to gardening, this is a great soil testing kit for you to consider. It is ready to use and easy to understand, with the analysis providing you a full report of fourteen different nutrients and soil pH. You won’t have to waste time applying nutrients your soil doesn’t even need.
What We Liked:
- Easy to use and ideal for beginners
- Tells you levels of fourteen different nutrients in the soil
- Gives you a personalized report for your soil acidity and nutrient levels
What We Didn’t Like:
- Results must be mailed to the company for full detailed analysis
The Luster Leaf 1605 is another popular option in the soil testing market. This device operates in a unique way. As the only digital soil tester we reviewed, this product is different from most other digital soil testers in that it does not require the use of probes. Instead, all you do is insert your soil sample and press the test button. The LED screen will use colors as a part of the test readings and give you your readout in just seconds.
This kit comes with over 450 plants to choose from, telling you the ideal pH for each and every one so that you will know exactly what you need to do. It also comes with a booklet for fertilizing, telling you how to fertilize based on your results for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. There are twenty-five different tests available, with ten for pH and ive for nutrients.
This versatile kit is a great option for people who want a no-fuss approach to testing their soil. You get all the tools you need to take care of your soil, without additional mess and hassle.
What We Liked:
- Easy to use and quick to operate
- Directions are clear and understandable with recommendations for a variety of soil types
- Can make recommendations for over 450 plants
What We Didn’t Like:
- Not as accurate as a professional laboratory reading
This soil analysis kit comes with four individual color comparisons as well as tests for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium,,and of course, pH. If you’re unsure what pH your soil should have, the Rapitest Soil Test Kit comes with recommendations for well over 100 different plants.
A straightforward and easy to use soil nutrient tester, this kit is a great option for determining the soil pH you need to help your plants thrive. Its accuracy is above comparison, with a pH preference list for over 450 plants. It’s also a great bargain, coming with 40 test so that you can conduct soil tests on your garden throughout the growing season.
This inspired soil test is a great value and perfect for novice gardeners – but experienced gardeners will find a lot to love in this soil tester, too.
What We Liked:
- Easy to use and understand
- Comes with several tests so you don’t need to buy additional kits
- Measured values available for nutrient testing – not just deficient or sufficient
What We Didn’t Like:
Capsules only last for one season and cannot be used after several months
The Effectivity Of Soil Kits For Your Garden
There are times that the soil you use for your plants will kill the plants instead of nurturing it which is why it is important to check if your soil meets the correct soil moisture, soil pH, and other requirements as well to achieve the best and accurate results for plant growth and development. The correct soil moisture from the water contained in the soil will help guarantee the best results, but keep in mind to monitor the soil pH to avoid problems that will pose a threat to your crops because high acidic levels will damage and interrupt the plants’ maturation. The precipitation from rainfalls provides the necessary soil moisture, but too much would harm the plant’s system especially if the plant cannot withstand heavy rainfall due to small size. To determine the pH level, and to check if soil moisture is just the exact amount, there are tools and methods to choose from that will allow you to pick what is fit your preference and what is best for your plants. Aside from checking the amount of soil moisture, you will be able to determine more elements that will help you review if you are on the right track.
Inexpensive luster leaf soil kits are recommended rather than the typical use of distilled water as a pH test. Some people use distilled water to get pH level results, but scientists claim that it is not that precise compared to the accurate results from luster leaf soil kits. Solely depending on luster leaf soil kits will not be effective if you will not do your part. Remember that it is only a pH test tool to help you keep track of everything in the garden from checking the soil moisture to evaluating if the pH level is sufficient. You must be active and constantly check on your plants to inspect their health. The best pH value for plants to grow in the soil you are about to place must range from 6.0-7.0. On the other hand, soil with a pH level of 5.5 is highly acidic and will kill your plants. This is one of the reasons why luster leaf soil kits are needed to help you with your gardening and at the same time, it will benefit your crops. To check the authenticity of the kit that you are using, thoroughly check the background of the company, and see if the kit you are interested in is approved by the associate’s program.
Depending on the type of soil tester you purchase, checking the nutrient content and acidity of your soil can be as simple as sticking a probe in the ground and letting it go. However, the best chemical soil testers will be those that allow you to determine not only the pH of your soil, but also its nutrient content and overall fertility.
When you are shopping for the best soil test kit, consider these top products and make sure you read the instructions carefully so that you can get the most accurate reading in your garden.