DIY Soil Testing at Home, How to do it cheaply

Good soil quality is basic for high crop yields, performance and profitability. To determine soil health, you need a soil test. This will help you to determine its type, PH (acidity or alkalinity value), organic matter content, drainage, texture, mineral composition and texture. Besides, a soil analysis is beneficial in detecting soil contamination with soil pests and other harmful residues like oil, pesticides and heavy metals like lead.  

Reasons you need soil testing

Soil testing is beneficial to homeowners and gardeners. Ideally, it should be done every year. It is also advisable before applying any fertilizer in your lawn or farm. It will help in determining your crop nutrition needs to avoid wastage or misapplication. Other reasons when soil testing is necessary are;

  • When you haven’t carried one in 3 years.
  • you have acquired (bought or leased) a new farm.
  • You are experiencing declining crop yields despite practising good agricultural practices (GAP).
  • You are switching to a new crop type and you want to determine your soil suitability for high yields.
  • To review if your previous soil improvement or correctional interventions have worked.

How does Soil Testing at home work

A soil test can be expensive and quite confusing with the availability of many options today. There are various tests that exist. These determine the soil type, acidity and texture among other features.

The most common method is sending your soil samples to private or public soil testing service providers in your country. These can be the local farm shops, garden stores, soil testing companies, government authorities or farmer cooperatives’ extension support offices.

The above method is fairly expensive and takes longer to get results back. In this article, We will look at an alternative way you can carry out a PH soil test on your own without outsourcing to a third party. To get accurate results you will have to purchase a soil test kit.

Where can you buy soil testing kits online

There are various toolkits can buy and carry out soil test right at home. Some like the digital soil test kits give you professional results within a few seconds without incurring the additional costs of collecting soil samples, sending them to a remote lab and waiting for 2-3 weeks to access your results. The kits come with a manual on how to collect soil samples, administer the test and interpret results.

While shopping one, determine what you need to test such as moisture PH, minerals such as potassium, calcium. zinc, Almininium and sulphur among others. Most DIY soil test kits are available in online leading shops and can be shipped to your address. The best soil test kits include Rapitest Test kits, whitetail institute laboratory test kits, Gain express Soil PH and a moisture metre.

To learn more, compare, shop and buy a soil test kit for use at home follow the links below.

How to use soil test results.

Any soil type can be improved or corrected maintained using soil amendments or interventions. You will do this based on your soil test results and informed recommendations. Common methods used in maintaining soil health are;

  • Applying agricultural lime or alkaline-based fertilizers to raise the soil PH. Using acidic fertilizers and sulphur reduces the soil PH.
  • To improve on soils’ texture, drainage and organic content you need to use plant, animal and other waste products. These can be Compost, composted manure, peat moss, coir, leaf mould or commercial organic or natural fertilizers

For other recommendations, seek advice from your regional extension officer from the county or national ministry of agriculture. Alternatively, this information can be sought from soil testing companies and existing online listings. 

Soil testing is not popular in many among smallholder farming. This can be utilized as a viable agriculture business ideas for youth to promote soil and crop nutrition.

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