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Getting your soil tested is a great way to determine its health and fertility. Using test kits is an affordable method of determining the different characteristics of the soil and using the results to craft a good fertility plan. Keep reading to learn more about soil testing kits and how to use them on your farm.
Why is Soil Testing Important?
Most soil nutrients are readily available when the soil has the right pH, around 6-6.5. If the soil becomes too acidic, some nutrients, such as iron and phosphorous, might become unavailable. Conversely, a huge drop in the pH might make the soil toxic and compromise the plant’s growth. These two extremes are likely to cause sharp drop in your crop yields.
When you use a soil testing kit, it becomes easy to get the guesswork out of the way. This implies that you will not need to buy unnecessary fertilizers that might not help to raise crop yield. Instead, you will only add what the plants need and create the best environment for their absorption through the plants’ root system.
Parameters Tested with Soil Testing Kits
Soil testing kits are designed to help you establish the soil fertility levels and then take urgent remedial measures. Here are some of the important soil parameters you can check with a testing kit:
- Nitrogen: This is one of the most crucial nutrients because it is used in making plant cells. It is also an important part of plant chlorophyll.
- Phosphorous: This nutrient is used for energy storage, cell growth, and photosynthesis.
- The pH of the soil: This is the acidity of the soil. Is the pH within the range that allows your plants to absorb nutrients from the soil?
How Often Should You Test the Soil?
You can test your soil using a soil testing kit any time of the year. The best way is to test the soil annually so that used up nutrients can be replenished before the next planting session. It is advisable to avoid testing your soil immediately after fertilization or when it is very wet.
To test the soil, use a trowel to get thin slices of soil a few centimeters from the surface. If the soil is very wet, take the samples and give them some time to dry before testing. Then, mix the sample with distilled water, add the chemical reagent, sake well and observe the color changes against the color chart.
Using soil testing kits is a great way to determine the fertility of your farm so that you can create a good fertility plan. Note that the test results you can get using test kits are not detailed. So, a third-party testing lab with more sophisticated equipment will be a better option to run extensive tests fast and give accurate results. For example, Sante Laboratories can tell the accurate levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, among other parameters. They can also check the presence of heavy metals in the soil.