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Why You Should Use A Soil Tester

For residential gardeners and budding green thumbs, the information that a soil tester provides can be a real game changer for making informed decisions. 

On a global scale, healthy soil helps to reduce poverty, lower carbon emissions, and ultimately provides us with bigger, stronger and healthier plants for the world’s vast population. On a much smaller scale, the quality of the earth found in our gardens can have an enormous influence on choosing which types of plants to introduce, and how we can expect them to fare in the unique soil environment. 

For the unfamiliar, soil is the byproduct of when rocks break down and mix with plant and animal matter. The properties of your soil are largely determined by the amount of organic material it contains, as well as the type of parent rock it comes from. Using a soil tester can help gardeners to understand the unique properties of their soil, and how to then put their best foot forward for creating the ideal green space. 

Three Easy Soil Tester Methods To Try At Home

Soil testing is arguably the single most important step that a gardener or grower can perform to ensure both bountiful yields and beautiful green spaces. One way or another, the type of soil available to you in your garden, paddock or pasture will affect the plants that you’re trying to grow. 

Like most things, knowledge is power when it comes to successful gardening, and taking the time to use a soil tester is a relatively easy way to understand the type of soil you’re working with. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise, with three of the most common soil tester methods including the following. 

Squeeze Test – As a general rule, soils are either classified as clay, sandy or loamy. Clay is nutrient-rich, but slow draining, whereas sandy soils are quick to drain but have trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be the ideal soil as it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn’t stay soggy. As one of the easiest soil tester methods, softly compress a handful of soil in your fist. If it’s sticky to touch while remaining relatively intact, it’s clay. Sandy soil will instead feel gritty and crumble easily. If it holds its shape and crumbles at a slight poke, you have the ideal loamy soil. Depending on where you live will determine the type of soil you are working with so speaking with local gardeners and the council will help you understand how to get the most out of your soil type. 

Water Test – Many varieties of plants will abruptly exit your garden to plant heaven if their roots remain wet without enough drainage. As such, other easy soil tester methods include measuring the quality of your garden’s draining, or lack thereof. To get started, all gardeners need to do is dig. Create a hole in the soil roughly around a foot deep. Proceed with filling the hole with water, before letting it drain completely. If it drains quickly, it is likely to be sandy or gravel soil, compared to clay which takes longer to absorb. If the hole takes longer than four hours to completely empty, your soil has drainage issues that will negatively affect your plants. 

pH Test – The pH scale ranges from zero to fourteen, and is designed to show how acidic or alkaline the soil is. Soil pH levels need to sit at the appropriate range in order for plants to absorb the nutrients provided in the earth while managing the more toxic contents. In higher rainfall areas the natural pH of soils typically ranges from 5 to 7, while in drier areas the range is 6.5 to 9. For the average gardener in Australia, the ideal range for most plants sits between 5.5 to 7 on the soil pH scale, although this can vary depending on the variant of plant. pH test kits can be picked up from most hardware stores and garden centres. 

On face value, nutritious soil is rich in organic materials, and is often soft and crumbly to touch. Beneath the surface, soil that’s at it’s best contains a huge variety of microbes and bacteria, has good aeration with plenty of oxygen circulating, and has medium to high porosity in order to provide drainage. If you’re looking to give the quality of your soil a boost, consider Biotic Booster as a means to supercharge your soil without all the chemicals. 

Where To Find A 3 In 1 Soil Tester 

Here at Bioweed, we specialise in environmentally friendly gardening products, including herbicides, plant food and plant probiotics, and natural alternatives to traditional gardening solutions. 

For gardeners looking for a way to measure the pH levels, light and moisture levels of their soil, the good news is that we also have a new product to do so. To get a better idea on the conditions you’re working with in your garden, try our 3 In 1 Soil Tester to help your leafy friends truly flourish.  

Should you have any questions about how to improve the sustainability of your garden or how to get a better grasp on your soil health, get in touch with us at Bioweed today.