Soil Testing Kits

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Cornelius_Gotchberg
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Soil Testing Kits

#1

Post: # 108940Unread post Cornelius_Gotchberg
Sat Oct 28, 2023 9:18 am

Anyone have any experience with any of these, good, bad, and/or ugly? https://www.google.com/search?q=soil+te ... nt=gws-wiz

The Gotch
Madison WESconsin/Growing Zone 5-A/Raised beds above the Midvale Heights spade-caking clay in the 77 Square Miles surrounded by A Sea Of Reality

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AZGardener
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#2

Post: # 108981Unread post AZGardener
Sat Oct 28, 2023 6:50 pm

I've used this one:
https://www.mysoiltesting.com/collectio ... KuEALw_wcB

I thought it was pretty accurate.
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JayneR13
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#3

Post: # 110851Unread post JayneR13
Tue Nov 28, 2023 10:35 am

I use the RapiTests when I just need to get into the ballpark between lab testing, which usually doesn't need to be done every year. Those are generally held to be not very accurate, though I trust color changes over some choices like multiprobes. My favorite is the Soil Savvy test, which tests for several nutrients. This includes majors, secondaries, micros, and of course pH. They're similar in price to my local Extension office and very easy to use. Here's an example of the readout:
soil test june 2023.png
They're available for direct purchase here: https://www.mysoilsavvy.com/

Good luck!
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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#4

Post: # 110855Unread post Cranraspberry
Tue Nov 28, 2023 1:35 pm

I recently found out that Penn State does basic soil tests for just $10, $15 if you want to include organic matter. For that price I have some samples drying now and plan to send them in this week. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing ... sion-forms
Small community garden plot in zone 7 (DC area)

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FatBeeFarm
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#5

Post: # 110874Unread post FatBeeFarm
Wed Nov 29, 2023 5:34 am

Cranraspberry wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 1:35 pm I recently found out that Penn State does basic soil tests for just $10, $15 if you want to include organic matter. For that price I have some samples drying now and plan to send them in this week. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing ... sion-forms
Do you know if you have to be a Pennsylvania resident? NH is $22, which really isn't all that bad either.
Bee happy and pollinate freely!

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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#6

Post: # 110890Unread post Cranraspberry
Wed Nov 29, 2023 9:21 am

@FatBeeFarm no, you don’t! I actually found their contact on the University of Maryland page - UMD no longer offers soil testing and they provided a list of labs that could be used instead. Most are upwards of $20, U of Delaware is $17 I think, but Penn State was the cheapest I’ve seen to date. We have multiple raised beds that were filled slightly differently, so we’d need at least 3 tests, and at $25/each that adds up which is why I haven’t done it yet. $30 for all three seems extremely reasonable. Plus they only require a cup of dried out soil (one lab wanted a pound per sample!), so shipping should be very inexpensive.
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pepperhead212
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#7

Post: # 110896Unread post pepperhead212
Wed Nov 29, 2023 10:47 am

Every few years I do a couple of soil tests through U of Connecticut, which has always seemed to have the biggest selection, and best prices for tests. They have a standard test, which has many tests included, and they offer the tests for many types of plants, depending on what you are growing; though I never got testing for corn, potatoes, or any of the fruit tests they offer, some of you might need it. They also offer many other tests, as you can see.
https://soiltesting.cahnr.uconn.edu/sampling/

As for out of state tests, you may be in a "quarantined area", which may affect you in other states, too. Down south, and out west there can be problem pests, as any of you know. Here's the link to the soil tests, and at the bottom of the page, it tells you about this, and a pdf showing a map, and if you are in one of those areas. And the first pdf right under "STANDARD NUTRIENT ANALYSIS" is probably what you will want, unless you are a commercial grower.
https://soiltesting.cahnr.uconn.edu/sampling/
Woodbury, NJ zone 7a/7b

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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#8

Post: # 110899Unread post Cranraspberry
Wed Nov 29, 2023 11:06 am

@pepperhead212 that’s very interesting - I visited 5 or 6 different soil testing sites yesterday (some affiliated with universities and some commercial) and none of them had such restrictions. I wonder if it’s a CT-specific legislation perhaps? Or maybe my sample size wasn’t large enough.
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JayneR13
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#9

Post: # 110978Unread post JayneR13
Thu Nov 30, 2023 2:58 pm

Cranraspberry wrote: Tue Nov 28, 2023 1:35 pm I recently found out that Penn State does basic soil tests for just $10, $15 if you want to include organic matter. For that price I have some samples drying now and plan to send them in this week. https://agsci.psu.edu/aasl/soil-testing ... sion-forms
What do they test? Is it just NPK and pH, or do they include other stuff? UW Extension includes only NPK and pH, though they'll do Ca and S for an added fee. That's something to consider for the money.

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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#10

Post: # 110979Unread post Cranraspberry
Thu Nov 30, 2023 3:29 pm

@JayneR13 I don’t believe any of the labs I checked out test for N, but it seems pretty standard, maybe a little on the bare bones side which isn’t necessarily a bad thing:
Each sample is analyzed for water pH, Mehlich buffer lime requirement, and for phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium by the Mehlich 3 (ICP) test. The final report includes the chemical analysis of the soil along with lime and fertilizer recommendations for the crop specified. For agronomic crops, Mehlich 3 zinc, copper and sulfur are also reported.
You can add organic matter for an extra $5, which is still the cheapest I’ve encountered.

I found them via this link and the table at the bottom of the page shows a comparison of several labs and what they test for: https://extension.umd.edu/resource/soil ... sting-labs
Small community garden plot in zone 7 (DC area)

JayneR13
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#11

Post: # 111007Unread post JayneR13
Fri Dec 01, 2023 9:59 am

That's surprising, since N is one of the three majors and they're testing for the other two. Cheap isn't always best in my experience however. I stand by my preference for the Soil Savvy tests.

ETA: I've looked at the tests offered by my local Extension and you're right! They're not testing for N. If memory serves they used to, but evidently not anymore. Strange but true! Wow!

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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#12

Post: # 111013Unread post Cranraspberry
Fri Dec 01, 2023 12:00 pm

@JayneR13 This is the explanation UMD gives, I was surprised as well:
Nitrogen is needed in relatively large quantities but it is not measured because it continuously moves between organic forms (not available for plant uptake) and inorganic forms (available for plant uptake). This is affected by temperature, rainfall, soil texture and structure, biological activity, and many other factors. Nitrogen recommendations are provided, but they are based on the need of the particular plant you are growing for the upcoming season, not the amount in your soil.
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JayneR13
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#13

Post: # 111055Unread post JayneR13
Sat Dec 02, 2023 8:20 am

Cranraspberry wrote: Fri Dec 01, 2023 12:00 pm @JayneR13 This is the explanation UMD gives, I was surprised as well:
Nitrogen is needed in relatively large quantities but it is not measured because it continuously moves between organic forms (not available for plant uptake) and inorganic forms (available for plant uptake). This is affected by temperature, rainfall, soil texture and structure, biological activity, and many other factors. Nitrogen recommendations are provided, but they are based on the need of the particular plant you are growing for the upcoming season, not the amount in your soil.
Interesting. N is needed in fairly large quantity and it does get used up quickly. However, too much N will result in lovely plants that don't set fruit. I learned this the hard way growing potatoes. I had the most lovely plants but not one tuber from a 4'x4' bed. I dug for my treasures and came up empty!

Well, it's good to know what a given lab is testing for the money. I'll take the comprehensive soil testing panel for $30, Alex.

SpringtimeInTheBag
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#14

Post: # 111266Unread post SpringtimeInTheBag
Tue Dec 05, 2023 11:02 pm

JayneR13 wrote: Sat Dec 02, 2023 8:20 am Interesting. N is needed in fairly large quantity and it does get used up quickly.
It also varies significantly from week to week based on weather, conditions for soil microbes, etc. Knowing what the reading was several weeks ago doesn't really help make good decisions about what to do today when it comes to nitrogen. By the time you receive the report it's already out of date. That's why many extension offices that provide testing services omit it.

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Cranraspberry
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Re: Soil Testing Kits

#15

Post: # 111490Unread post Cranraspberry
Sun Dec 10, 2023 9:39 am

Just wanted to update that I got my Penn State test results back. It was very quick - sample was delivered on Friday 12/1 and I had the results in my inbox on Wednesday 12/6.
Biggest surprise was that my three beds weren’t as different as I expected (two were filled with all new bagged products and the third used a lot of my existing, clay-based soil), and that my calcium and magnesium were very high (makes sense since I added quite a but of garden lime to balance out the acidity of peat moss). Of course I had just bought a bunch of Neptune’s Harvest crab shell meal on sale. 😂
I also added OM because I was curious, but because of the high percentage of peat/bagged “soil” it’s very high and not particularly helpful, should’ve saved the extra $15/3 tests.

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