NPK Soil Test Kits

behlgarden(9)January 24, 2012

Has anyone used NPK soil test kits? How do the results compared to lab tests? I am trying to avoid spending $80 for PH test alone, all NPK would cost well over $100 in CA Riverside. Too bad in CA there is no extension services for soil testing.

Anyone?

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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

A bought soil test kit will give you most of the info you need. Just remember your soil needs to be not only chemically balanced but physically balanced ie. free (but not excessively free) draining. Occasionally bought soil kits do not pick up on minor imbalances ie. manganese. These deficiencies are rare, however, and you will be able to diagnose it by the effects on your plants.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The Nitrogen in your soil changes as the Soil Food Web becomes more, or les, active so those test kits may, or may not, provide good information. The pH test may give some indication of your soils pH but it will not tell you why it is what it is or whether you need to add Calcitic or Dolomitic lime to correct if the pH is low.
There are places to get your soil tested for much less then $80.00.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 7:21AM
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bpohlman

I may have some good options for you. Send me your contact information and I can give you some places that do this type of testing with recommendations for $25.00

bkp13611@gmail.com

Brent

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 11:33PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I think it is the University of Connecticut, UCANN, that will test soils form other states so it may be worth your while to contact them. A basic test there costs $8.00, plus postage.
However, that might also be UMASS although they are a bit more expensive, $10.00

Here is a link that might be useful: UCONN Soil testing

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 8:13AM
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bi11me(5b)

$80 for a basic soil test is, frankly, criminal. You could probably find a cheaper alternative in Europe or Asia, if you prefer not to support a New England school. There is no reason you need to get it done locally. An off-the-rack test kit will give you some guidelines, but the N reading will be of little real import. pH is as important as nutrient analysis, whatever you decide, but the home test kit will offer far less info in regard to interpretation and remediation. I'd go with UCONN... they have a great womens' basketball team.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:35AM
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behlgarden(9)

Thanks for the tip. I contacted UCONN and they responded back by saying that local soil there and their tests are designed for soils created via glaciers, however California soil is different and local labs are the best resource for testing. I am like duh! Soil is a soil, give me the results of testing. Anyway, will keep looking.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 3:51PM
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gunnersm8

check a reputable nursery/garden center. the one down the street from me will test for free and give recommendations.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 2:12PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Many of the garden centers that test soil for free use the off the shelf soil test kits that do not provide sufficient information to make intelligent decisions. You should know not only what your soils pH is but why it is what it is, ie. Calcium or Magnesium and the balance between them. Nitrogen is too variable and dependant on soil temperature to be measured very accurately and that is why many soil testing labs no longer do so.
Then, too, I have heard people at gardcne centers pooh pooh soil testing and tell people "apply this just like every one else is doing." which could well mean you are spending your money on stuff you do not need and may well contribute to more pollution of our water.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 6:42AM
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Michael

Contact you extension service and tell them of you plight, if you are lucky, they can point you to a commercial lab. speaking of commercial labs, try and get, from your extension service, the type of soil in your area, with that info. you can hopefully find a lab that deals with your soil type.

I had to go through the same process and even was wanting to find a lab that was in a state with commercial apple production and research and my types of soil for the best recommendations. yep, I'm picky and choosy. Colo. State was my choice and the accepted my out of state sample from the apple orchard and provided recs. that I mostly agreed with.

The soil type and lab is a very important combination because of the methodologies different labs use to actually extract the soil samples prior to analysis. There are a number of different extractants and not one is suitable for all types of soil.

Find out your soil type and tell the lab before sending the sample.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 12:28PM
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organic_popeye

NPK and ph doesn't tell you enough. You can get a complete soil test from A & L labs for about $28.00. You get a complete mineral assay. I go through a complete analysis on my website. You might want to take a look. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Double Victory Garden

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 7:09PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

It maybe was UMASS that offered soil testing for all over rather that UCONN.

Here is a link that might be useful: UMASS soil testing

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 6:59AM
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fortyonenorth(6b)

Thanks for the tip. I contacted UCONN and they responded back by saying that local soil there and their tests are designed for soils created via glaciers, however California soil is different and local labs are the best resource for testing. I am like duh! Soil is a soil, give me the results of testing. Anyway, will keep looking.

It's not as straightforward as one might think. There is no single "SOIL TEST." In practice, different testing procedures, extractions, etc. are tailored to specific soils. UCONN most likely have standardized their "test" to address the unique characteristics of New England's soil types.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 7:47AM
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dremann

In California if you need the basics for N-P-K and pH test kits for under $10 at any garden store, and you can get about 4 tests out of the kit.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2014 at 6:05PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

How good those test kits from your local garden shoppe might be will depend on the age of the kit and how it was stored. The reagents do deteriorate with time.
Testing for Nitrogen probably is meaningless since the available N varies depending on soil temperature and the activity of the Soil Food Web. These kits may give an indication of soil pH but you do not get any information about what to do about the pH you get. I have also seen these kits give the same indication of pH to a mixture of Baking Soda and vinegar, which tells me they are not very reliable.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2014 at 6:35AM
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toxcrusadr

I like having the organic matter (OM) content, micronutrients (not only Ca and Mg but Fe, Cu, Mn etc.), pH and finally P and K. Since N varies so much seasonally, I've never had it tested, costs extra anyway at my extension lab. I would think if mailing a sample to another state, N might offgas somewhat in transit, whereas the other nutrients won't.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 10:58AM
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