Having a beautiful garden is the dream of a modern man. Having a beautiful and healthy one is of course, sometimes difficult to achieve.
People tend to remember important things such as light value and proper watering of the plants, but the third most important is often overlooked.
Since not all the plants require the same terms, and some species will thrive, while others a few feet away will wither. That is why keeping track of these numbers is vital.
FOR LARGE FIELDS
What To Look For In A Soil Test Kit?
To declare the winner, I had to make a list of particular characteristics which every kit must have, and compare those I have chosen. My criteria were as follows:
Is It Hard To Handle?
In case that you can take measurements quickly and efficiently, without losing an entire afternoon, this is a useful feature.
I had test kit a few years back which was a bit unreliable, so measuring had to be taken several times. All of that wasted my time and made me rethink whether it is good or not.
In other words, the easiest it is to handle, the better. Many people have just the basic knowledge, and they need simple approach. The instruction manual must be transparent and easy to read and follow.
Is It Accurate?
“Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.”, said Wyatt Earp more than a century ago, and I couldn’t agree more with the famous sheriff of the Old West. It is great to have a fast instrument, but if the readings are not correct, this speed is a weakness. Reagents need time to work their magic, and if the terms are not as stated in the instruction manual, there is a high probability that the test needs to be retaken.
The instrument which can do both, to be quick and accurate is the best by far, but such have at a general higher price. Therefore, if I had to choose, I’d say that I would rather wait a few minutes more than to be guided by wrong numbers.
How Much Will It Cost?
One of the things which will determine the winner is the price. Of course, the cheaper I can get the individual item, the better, but I didn’t let the price dictate my choice. Those with lower prices are more than once showed to be less than reliable and that their lifetime is much shorter. On the other hand, there are products which are overpriced, and they are equally good as those of the competition, only the price is higher.
To find the middle solution is my aim, and to see which product will serve the best, while remaining in the range of affordable. Luckily, the Internet is my ally, because mass selling brought the market to lower prices, due to massive competition and the abundance of choices.
What Does It Measure?
Versatility and the ability to measure several factors is a fantastic feature, and luckily, the majority of products on my list can do just that. But more is never enough. Having more detailed image about the soil is a must so that you can focus on those tiny differences. Proper measuring kit should measure at least N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). These are the stepping stones of every garden, and having them in suitable amounts is vital.
Almost all of the products listed here are using a reagent, which reacts with a particular element, similar to how litmus paper works. The colors are used because of their easier readings. Other methods would include laboratory tests and are not suitable for field usage.
How Hard Will It Be To Do Maintenance?
Every tool whether that be a shovel or pH value meter needs a proper maintenance so that it will last longer, and its service is to be more productive. I have taken into consideration the amount of time and effort needed for maintaining the device clean and efficient.
Most often, normal washing with warm water and soap will do just fine, and anything above that I’ve considered as complicated and time-consuming.
Current Popular Soil Test Kits On The Market - My Reviews
So, these are the products which I’m concerning as worth buying. They all have their pros and cons, and upon that fact, I’ve decided the winner and the rest. Of course, if you think that individual device will fit your needs better, but I gave it lower mark, remember that these are merely suggestions, and every one of those is good in its way.
FOR LARGE FIELDS
FOR LARGE FIELDS
**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit – Cheap, Fun, And Reliable
Price on Amazon: $13.90
For beginners in gardening or the people who are there for some time, this is my primary and the best recommendation. It is easy to use, and precise, and besides that, it comes with four different containers for every element measured.
Still, besides low price, it is a fantastic product. The point is to pour soil and water into the container and shake it thoroughly. After half an hour, transfer water into the referring compartment, and add the powder from the pill provided.
The reagent will color the solution according to the level of the measured element, and you can see quickly where on the scale it is. On the other hand, I got the feeling that capsules are too small, so those with shaky hands might have a difficult time using it.
Maintenance is relatively easy; you just need to wash the container thoroughly and set it aside. Because of its concept, I got the feeling that this was one of those child chemistry sets which had performed very well, so they made a soil test kit out of it (it even rhymes).
The price is almost trivial, and it is very affordable, so you shouldn’t think twice whether you will order one, two or five. It pays off eventually because it remains an excellent product which is convenient to use indoors and in the open.
Rapitest Premium Soil Test Kit 1663 – The Basics
Price on Amazon: $27.49
For those people who love to know the basics of the soil components, Rapitest Premium 1663 can be useful, but it might be a bit complicated. It brings in what you will need, and does it with style.
It comes in a brilliant and sciency (not a word, I just invented it) suitcase, which made me feel like a special agent on a secret mission. Besides being fun, this kit is also quite reliable. The readings are accurate and easy to read. Using it was easy, in most of the cases.
Once I was testing it outside, and the wind got a bit stronger, so all of the tubes started shaking and flying around, so take note about this when you try it out.
I needed to take the soil sample, dilute it and pour the solution into the tube and add reagent. According to the results, I could decide that some more potassium should be added to the soil, for example.
Also, maintaining it was not difficult; all there was is for me to wash the tubes in warm water, and leave it to dry. The manufacturer states that this set should be enough for 80 tests, but I’m not convinced that this is entirely accurate. Still, since testing is not done daily, it should last quite a long time.
To be honest, I’ve expected a bit higher price, so how small it is surprised me pleasantly. Also, since it is aimed for everyone who wants to know the basics about their garden, it is still affordable.
Solvita Gardencare Test Kit – Full Tests Are Available
Price on Amazon: $79.50
Not only pH value and N-P-K index, but this test can also determine the quality of the compost used on the soil as well. This feature is what puts it in the first rows when it comes to full package test kits.
A lot of people forget about the condition of the compost applied; using too “young” one can make the plants wither, while the older one had passed its prime, and will not release enough nutrients into the ground, thus holding back the progress of the plant.
This kit is intended for this given situation. You can measure the response of the useful bacteria in the soil and that way you can see what should be added or reduced. It was quite easy for me to follow the instructions, and once I’ve done it successfully, I could do it on my own.
The price is a bit high, but considering what is included, it is not such a big deal. Many other things which will not have such strong educational note for your kids can be even more expensive.
Soil Tester Rapitest Case Pack 12 – Cheap Is Its Middle Name
Price on Amazon: $91.10
Sometimes minimally is good. Regarding kit testing, Soil Tester Pack 12 does its best with limited resources he has at disposal.Four tubes are included in this package, and the adequate reagents as well.
Although it may seem inadequate, the price dictates the minimum equipment available. I had to provide mixing container and a dropper for filling the tubes. In case that you have those, you could consider this option.
As for accuracy, it is useful for orientation, but nothing spectacular, so I can only recommend this item for those people who want to have a general picture of the condition of the soil, such as in the fields. For indoor measuring, where precision is vital, it is not so good.
The maintenance was a bit tricky because the tubes are pretty narrow, so I had to use the back of the wooden ladle with a cloth to wash it thoroughly. Still, besides my effort, there were still some blurry spaces.
The price is among the lowest in the market, but still, quite appropriate for what is included.
FOR LARGE FIELDS
Rapitest Premium Soil Test Kit – For Large Fields
Price on Amazon: $27.49
The only “device” on this list, Rapitest is still able to compete with the others.As well as the others, this Digital soil test kit can measure four the most important ingredients in the ground.
However, it takes a bit different approach. You need to mix the water and soil as well as with the others, add the reagent, mix it again, and then insert the tube at the top of the device.
By pressing the responding button, you will get reading whether the level of that element is too low, low, ideal, high or extremely high.
This scale, however, is somewhat inaccurate and is convenient for fields, rather than for the garden. The whole process takes some time since the mixtures need time to settle, so I had to do something else while I was waiting.
The maintenance is both easy and a bit troublesome, because the device needs only batteries, and wipe from dust from time to time, but the tubes are difficult to wash. Again, I had to use my faithful ladle, but this time, there was less dirt left behind.As for the price, it is affordable, neither cheap nor expensive, and almost every farmer can consider it.
All of the items featured on my list are there to provide you with the most accurate readings available. Choosing the best soil test kit was not easy, but it was fun, as gardening in whole should be. Some effort must be put into it, but the reward is always worth.
Luster Leaf 1601 Rapitest Soil Test Kit has proven to be far better than the rest, with its superior price, versatility, and easiness of usage.
In case that you have any experience in this field, feel free to share it in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you!