Five Easy Do-It-Yourself Soil Tests

Great soil is the key to a healthy crop. Fortunately, today, thanks to technology and various sustainable practices, soil care has become more accessible. For example, sensors will give you the answer to such an essential question as to how to measure soil moisture.

How else do you know if the soil in your area contains what your plants need? This article will provide you with several test options to perform without any special equipment. Their results will help you gain a basic understanding of the condition and type of the soil and provide samples for further research in the laboratory.

Soil Structure and Tilth Test

You will need to dig a small hole up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) deep to determine the soil structure. The soil must be neither too dry nor too wet. Then separate the undamaged part of the soil and break it. Its texture can be grainy, lumpy, or powdery.

The ground can be considered ideal in texture if it consists of crumbs or aggregates of different sizes that do not deform under light pressure. Aggregates in soil rich in organic matter are round and provide soil porosity. It is crucial because the porous soil allows water and oxygen to move freely, necessary to develop a healthy root system.

The Puddle Test

Water must move freely to the roots for the crops to remain healthy. It is essential to take care of drainage not to cause root rot in your plants. You can check the soil drainage in a puddle. To do this, roll a ball of damp soil and drop it into a bucket of water. A ball of soil will sink if it has good drainage.

You can make a few holes in the beds before planting to grow culinary herbs, for example. Adding organic matter will also help you make a difference. Water after watering should not linger longer than 4 hours.

pH Test

You can determine soil pH using vinegar and baking soda. Take two soil samples from different areas of the garden or farm. Spread the collected earth in two separate containers and add half a glass of vinegar. Alkaline soil with a higher pH will sizzle. It is not suitable for all plants, and to correct this. You can apply a fertilizer with acidifying nitrogen and higher sulfur content.

If the soil hasn’t reacted with the vinegar, take another sample and add distilled water and half a cup of baking soda.

The absence of reaction indicates that your farm or garden has a neutral environment where most plants will feel comfortable. Acidic soil with a lower pH will sizzle just like the first case. Such soil will be ideal for blueberries or cranberries, but you can add crushed limestone to the ground for growing less acid-loving plants.

The Worm Test

Worms can also be an indicator of soil health in your area. The presence of earthworms suggests that the soil likely contains useful microorganisms that are important for plant health and soil fertility. Worms can also be an indicator of soil health in your area. You need the warm, damp ground to make a test.

Dig a hole and place the remaining soil on a tarp. Then sift the earth with your hands to check the number of worms. If there are at least ten of them, you can be calm. It means that the soil is in good condition and has enough organic matter.

The Squeeze Test

Soils can be classified as clay, sandy and loamy, depending on their composition. Each of these soil types has its characteristics, for example, clay soil is rich in nutrients, but drainage is slow. Sand has the opposite properties. The loamy ground is considered the best option for growing various crops, as it can keep nutrient and moisture levels in balance.

You will need a sample of slightly damp soil. Squeeze it and look at what you have on your palm. The ground is loamy if the sample holds its shape but crumbles when poked. If the soil does not crumble when pushed and has its condition, it is clayey. Sandy soil does not hold its shape and falls apart immediately.

Final thoughts

Home tests can help you gain a basic understanding of the condition and type of your soil. This way, you can see if you need more tests in the lab and determine what steps you need to take to get her in better condition. Based on the soil type and composition, you can choose the appropriate fertilizers, types of treatment, optimal watering. It’s also a great way to get an idea of what crops you can grow on your farm or garden.

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