Check out this article , “Soil Test Kits” – February 13, 2013 From Topics in Subtropics Blog Site. This article reviews some of the most well-know soil testing kits and compares their results to conventional laboratory results. It is well worth reading and gives some good information about some popular soil testing kits on the market.
This being said, I think another article should accompany this article and look at laboratories with respect to soil testing. The article listed above makes it appear that soil test kits may be a good alternative to laboratories if you want quick results that are close to actual lab analysis. I think the information may be stretching it a bit.
Listed below are some items to also consider when comparing soil test kits and laboratory analysis
As the study showed, not all soil testing kits perform accurately, I would add not all soil testing laboratories take 1- 4 weeks for turnaround time. In fact, Midwest Laboratories consistently performs soil testing and reports analysis values to clients in 2-3 days.
With a soil kit, you will receive a value and a chart which would show the grower where there number stands with respect to being normal, low or high. A number of soil testing laboratories also offer fertilizer recommendations based on the values from the analysis. In addition, there are several software programs that also can use the values derived from analysis and make recommendations.
Quality Assurance Testing
Can a person be sure that the results received from a soil testing kit are defendable and reproducible. How many people run duplicate samples using kits? This would get very expensive for the grower. Midwest Laboratories uses a series of check samples, quality checks and trending techniques to determine proper quality control. This process runs in the background and is not charged directly to the grower.
As stated earlier, results from soil testing kits can be obtained, but information needs to be written down and recorded. At laboratories, analysis is recorded in a system and reported to growers in a number of formats: online, paper and data feed directly to a system.
Answering Questions Regarding Analysis
A soil testing kit produces a value and the grower looks at that value and makes his/her next decision based on those results. At Midwest Laboratories, we have a team of client service representatives available to answer questions regarding analysis results. In addition, we have staff agronomists on hand to also answer specific questions for specific grower needs.