How To Test Your Soil At Home (And Why It’s Important)

Conducting a soil assessment is not a hard task. It may seem like a futile activity, and you may not care about the quality of your soil. But, in today’s blog, we’re going to explain to you why it’s important to know the quality of your soil and also how you can do it yourself using a soil testing kit.


Know what you’re testing for

A soil assessment encompasses a few different things. The three primary nutrients – also known as macronutrients – that are essential to the survival of plants are:

  • Nitrogen – This is probably – of the three primary nutrients – the most important one as large amounts are needed for plants to perform their important functions, such as photosynthesis.
  • Potassium – Also known as potash, this macronutrient strengthen cells walls, helps water and sugar move inside the plant and also protects against diseases.
  • Phosphorus – Phosphorus is essential to plant maturity and growth. It also plays a large part in all synthesis occurrences that plants take part in such as photosynthesis and protein synthesis.

The other thing you’ll be testing for is the pH levels of the soil. pH levels are represented by a scale that ranges from 0 – 14. 0 – 6 represents acidic pH levels and 8 – 14 represent the alkaline levels – with seven being neutral. Different plants will require different pH level so be sure to keep an eye on your soil’s levels.


Testing the soil

There are a variety of kits you can purchase with varying price ranges, but you don’t need to worry about spending more to get better. You’ll be able to perform your own soil assessment with an inexpensive kit.

To test your soil, simply dig a hole in your garden around four inches deep – take care not to touch the soil you’ve unearthed as it could contaminate and ultimately compromise the results – and take a sample of the soil. You will have four tubes, three for the macronutrients and the last for the pH level.

Fill each tube with the soil from the side of the hole – be sure to remove any stones or weeds. Once you have your samples you can fill the tubes with distilled water. The results are to be compared to the chart supplied in your kit, which will tell you where exactly your soil is sitting at in the four categories.

Once you know the results you can determine if your garden needs more of the three macronutrients or if it needs to be more or less acidic. Once you’ve made the appropriate amendments to your soil then you can retest it and see if it made a difference. If done correctly, you should see a change. Now that you have a kit and know how to test the soil yourself you can do test it regularly to ensure the levels are kept in check through the different seasons.


Why is this important to do?

The whole point of testing your soil is to determine the fertility and health of the soil. Healthy enough for plants to thrive and healthy enough for fruit and vegetables to grow and ripen properly. If your soil is not healthy then you’ll start to see a lot of problems emerge like stunted growth and lack of food production.

Performing a soil assessment allows you to adjust your soil so that you can take full advantage of its capabilities all year round. It is also a good way to minimise on fertiliser use as once you know what is wrong, you can look for healthier and natural alternatives to chemical fertilisers.

Also, when you know your soil’s pH level, then you can look up what level the plants you’re planting require and adjust accordingly. This guarantees the best future for your plants – or even allow you to purchase plants that all share similar pH levels.


Do you need a soil assessment performed?

Whilst it is easy to do a soil test at home, sometimes it’s easier to let a professional handle it. Alpha Environmental offer soil assessment services for both home and worksites which are administered by our passionate and friendly environmental specialists. So, whether you’re worried about your plants not performing well or your new building site requires a soil assessment, Alpha Environmental have got you covered.

If you would like to know more about the environmental services we offer, then please give us a call on 1300 039 181 or fill out the form on our website.