Evaluating Home Soil Test Kits

By Charlie Nardozzi

Testing the soil is important for determining soil fertility and health. Whether it be for a lawn, flower garden, or vegetable garden, knowing your pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other nutrient levels will help determine what soil amendments you need to add before you plant. One of the quickest and easiest ways to test your soil is with commercially available home soil test kits.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, tested five widely available soil test kits to determine their accuracy when compared with professional soil laboratory tests. They analyzed Salinas clay loam soil for the pH, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium levels using the home test kits and the professional soil laboratory results.

Researchers found the LaMotte Soil Test Kit and Rapitest kits performed the best, with at least 90 percent accuracy in these categories. Some kits were more accurate with certain nutrients. For example, nitrogen levels were most accurately determined by Rapitest and Quick Soiltest, phosphorous levels by Rapitest, and pH by LaMotte Soil Test Kit. Potassium was determined with equal accuracy by all kits except the Soil Kit.

For more information about this soil test kit research, go to: Hort Technology.

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