Home Soil Testing

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Just curious what you all think. I moved my veggie garden and have new beds/soil for this year. The beds are filled with native soil and compost from the community compost. I want to check my soil before planting (still a long way off) and would like to hear comments and suggestions from you guys about what tests are necessary (is pH and NPK enough or should I check calcium, iron and magnesium, too? Magnesium is so important for things like tomatoes, but I don't think most soils are too deficient in it) and, the best way to get the test done. The UofM extension service will do a basic pH NPK test for $17, Ca, Mg are another $7. I can buy a soil test kit, which I am leaning towards for $17-$35 depending on what the kit tests and how many tests are included. The one that seems to everywhere is the Rapitest ( by Lusterleaf)-any yeas, nays or comments about this test or suggestions for another?
Thanks for your input!

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Most of what I hear about home soil kits is bad--not repeatable, different results from different brands, etc. I'd recommend going with professional tests from your Extension service.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I bought the Rapidtest kit once. It was WAY off.

I agree: get the one from Extension.

Starkville, MS(Zone 8a)

Your extension service is the way to go. They can not only give you accurate results but also give you advice on how to improve the numbers and thus the soil.


Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

Thanks! As soon as the snow is off and the ground is thawed, I'll send them in-thinking one for each bed since they were filled at different times.

Sunnyvale, CA(Zone 10a)

I've used the Lamotte Gardener's soil test kit. From what I've heard, it's a lot better than the usual consumer-grade test kits. But all the fussing around with test tubes and cleanup seemed like a hassle. I'm more inclined to send out a sample to be professionally analyzed in the future.

Sierra Vista, AZ(Zone 8b)

Another tool that I think is OK at home is a real pH tester, but they run over $100 AND require frequent calibration with a test solution, which also costs extra (after maybe a small amount included with the original purchase). I keep thinking I'll buy one, just for the geek in me.

Talihina, OK

What our EXT service say to do is take a sample from several spots around and mix it thoroughly and just send it the one sample Here in Oklahoma they send you back a printed sheet telling just how much of whatever is needed per acre whith a conversion table to get it to the apropo Square footing

Buffalo, MN(Zone 4a)

As soon as the snow melts (hopefully this weekend it will be gone!) I will send in my samples-thanks for the info!!!!

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