I hear this question a lot. “Isn’t it just easier to buy a soil test kit and do the test myself?” Answer is yes! I cannot argue that going to one location, purchasing a kit, taking it home and conducting the test myself isn’t easier. However, the question is, what do you really get from the kit. Some kits are simple, (pH) others have a lot more analysis with them.
The benefits of going to the laboratory are the following.
- Laboratories offer soil testing supplies: soil sample bags, soil probes, soil sampling instructions.
- You are in control of your soil sampling process.
- You can track your history from year to year: Saved Report or(Paper and Online Reports) – Midwest Laboratories and Other Labs
- You can ask questions regarding results- Agronomists on staff
- Quality/Control Results – All samples are checked and rechecked to insure quality information.
The Drawbacks :
- You will have to collect your composite sample and think about what you want the results to show you. (Poor Location or General Information for Fertilizer Application or Type of Crop you are planting
- You will have to send it to a soil laboratory and wait for results. Turnaround time can be 2-3 days or 2-3 weeks. (May need to check this out ahead of time)
- You might pay more because you want more information
Soil Testing Kits can give you quick information and maybe that is all you need. If you want to more, a formal soil analysis at a laboratory near you can be much more beneficial.
I came across this website with some different soil testing kits. Take a look and see if you have seen any of these on a Nursery Shelf near you.