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In the beginning, when I used a soil pH meter, all I had to do was stick it down and wait for the readings. It’s possible that using this method won’t give you accurate results.
Here are some simple instructions for using a soil pH meter in the garden to get a more accurate reading.
How Accurate Are Soil PH Testers?
There are a wide variety of soil pH meters on the market. Various types of test strips, dyes and kits as well as analogue and digital meters are readily available.
Dr.Meter is the brand of pH meter I use. I like it since it not only measures the pH level of the soil, but also its moisture content, the strength of the sun, and its temperature. It’s a breeze to work with!
I like a digitized electronic pH meter since it’s easy to read and provides the most accurate reading of all soil pH meters.
You don’t need a digital soil pH meter to get the most precise readings. Here, the sort of meter you use and the testing method you select are both critical.
In general, no matter what type of meter you use, taking a sample and testing its pH is simple and straightforward.
How To Test The Soil PH With A Digital PH Meter
- Take a small sample of soil from your garden or plant pot as a starting point.
- Make sure the soil sample you’ve collected is completely free of contaminants. Debris of any kind should be completely absent from the surface. The root of your sample is also the greatest place to obtain a piece of your sample. Because this will guarantee the most accurate outcome, you should do this.
- Add water to the sampled soil in an open container. Your soil’s volume should be matched by your water supply. A single scoop of dirt is all you need to add water to.
- Allow the soil to rest for 15 minutes after stirring it for 5-10 seconds.
- Soil PH meters should be used after 15 minutes of stirring the soil.
- Once you’ve placed the meter stick in the soil, wait for it to display the PH reading on the screen.
If you don’t clean the stick of your meter before and after each usage, your readings may be inaccurate.
How to use a soil pH meter (and why it matters)
- To determine the acidity or alkalinity of a soil, soil pH meters are used by both amateur gardeners and experts in the agricultural industry.
- If you want healthy, vibrant plants, you must ensure that your soil’s pH is correct. To achieve precise readings, you must understand how to use your soil pH meter.
What is soil pH, and why does it matter?
It is possible to determine a soil’s acidity or alkalinity with a soil pH meter. The ‘pH’ or potential for hydrogen is used to express the activity of hydrogen ions, which is what they measure. There are a total of 14 pH values, with 0 being the most acidic, 7 being the most neutral, and 14 corresponding to the most alkaline solution.
Most plants thrive in a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5. Despite this, a few species can survive outside of this region. If your soil pH isn’t within the recommended range for optimum nutrient uptake, your plants and crops may not get the nutrition they need to grow and prosper.
Many factors can change the pH of the soil. Weather, fertilizer, irrigation, soil type, other plants in the region, and nutrient availability are the most prevalent factors that affect the soil’s pH.. This means that soil pH can fluctuate significantly, and regular tests using a soil pH meter are vitally necessary to maintain healthy plant growth.
What to look for when selecting your soil pH meter
Soil pH meters come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from meters for the home gardener to those for major agricultural operations. Here is a list of items to keep in mind while purchasing a soil pH meter.
- Portability. Do you need a lab pH meter, a field pH meter, or a hybrid of the two?
- Method. Is it possible to take a sample of dirt straight from the ground, or does diluting make more sense?
- Functions. Is it necessary to include additional features? Soil moisture and conductivity, for example.
- The probe’s length. Typically, a sample depth of 20cm or less is required. Different plants and crops necessitate varying depths of measuring.
- Accuracy. Direct soil sampling has historically been less precise than dilution sampling.
- Calibration. Is there a buffer solution included with the device to calibrate your meter?
- Time spent collecting samples. How long does it often take to obtain a response from this system?
- Durability of the device and electrodes. The glass in an electrode can be damaged by direct ground measurement.
Example Types of Soil pH Meters
Using a pH meter in the soil
Using a soil pH meter, there are two ways to determine the pH of a soil sample. A 2:1 soil solution measuring method or a direct ground measurement can also be used to accomplish this.
a. Direct ground measurement
A set of tools is necessary.
- pH meter for soils using an electrode.
- A shovel or auger
- Drinking water from a public supply
- Deionized Water
- A pair of gloves (Recommended)
- Keep an eye out for any loose boulders or stones. Remove the top 5cm of dirt by digging it out and dumping it.
- A shovel or auger can be used to penetrate the soil to a depth of roughly 20 centimeters or more.
- Apply a small amount of distilled water to the soil if it is dry.
- Clean the electrode by running it under running water (Not distilled).
- Push the electrode into the dirt with slight pressure to ensure perfect contact. The electrode could be damaged if you apply too much pressure.
- Wait for the reading to stabilize, then take a closer look at the meter.
- If any soil remains, carefully remove it with your fingers after washing the electrode with tap water (not distilled). Avoid using a cloth to clean the electrode, since this could damage it.
- Repeat the technique for your sample in many locations. Take the average of the measured data into account for the best outcomes.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to employing this strategy.
Can be done on the ground and has a faster and more immediate effect. Positive
Spear/electrode damage is a risk. In general, the results are less accurate.
b. Measurement with a soil solution 2:1 method
Tools Are Necessary
- pH meter for soils using an electrode.
- A shovel or auger
- Zip-top plastic bags
- de-ionized water
- Cup or Beaker of 250ml
- A sieve with a 2mm mesh size
- A pair of gloves (Recommended)
- The first 5cm of topsoil should be removed and discarded.
- An auger or shovel can be used to penetrate the soil to a depth of 20 centimeters or more. Each sample should include the same amount of soil.
- Assemble all of the samples you’ve gathered in one bowl. Discard any sticks, rocks, or other foreign objects from the mixture.
- Use a 2mm screen to sieve the mixed soil sample and discard any overs that remain.
- You’ll need to weigh 25 grams of sieved soil and 50ml of deionised water. Mix for a full 30 seconds before serving.
- Allow a minimum of five minutes to elapse before attempting again.
- Insert the electrode into the solution and conduct a measurement once the mixture has been stirred again.
Another Way Of Testing The Soil PH With A Meter
Digging is another simple method for determining the pH of your soil without the use of a container. In my method, I just excavate a tiny hole and fill it with water.
16 to 20 ounces of water is all that is necessary. I start mixing the soil as I pour water into the hole and wait for the consistency to become muddy and mushy.
As a result, I use a pH Meter with a needle or stick attached to it.
It takes around 4 minutes to thoroughly mix the muddy dirt before I insert the soil ph tester about 5cm deep. The pH meter should be able to measure the soil’s pH level in less than a minute.
Other Types Of PH Testers You Can Use
If you’re on a tight budget, these soil pH test strips are ideal. It’s essentially a strip of litmus paper that you dip into a solution of soil and water for around 30 seconds.
When compared to the chart, the colors you see on the strip are identical to those on the chart. It’s a good indicator of the soil’s PH level. In the case of test strips, it is possible that the color they display will be difficult to decipher.
A pH test kit in the form of a dye-soil pH meter. All you have to do is collect your sample and place it in the provided container with the included solution.
Using a pH chart, you may determine the level of acidity in the sample by observing the color change in the container after shaking it.
Knowing Your Soil’s PH Level
There are two ways that your meter may show you the pH of your soil right now. Either 0-14 or 0-100 are viable options.
The most typical display on soil pH meters shows levels 0-14. Soil with a pH of 7 is considered to be neutral.
If the pH of your soil is less than 7, this indicates that your soil is more acidic. It has a greater alkaline content if it rises above 7.
There are more aluminum, iron, and manganese in soil with a pH of 0-5. It’s possible that certain components could harm the growth of some plants. In general, it’s still preferable for plants to have a neutral pH level in their soil.
Understanding The Right PH Level
Keep in mind, you don’t have to keep your soil’s pH at a level of 7. What actually matters is what kind of plant you have or plan to care for.
It’s also possible to alter the pH level of your soil. You can use the juice of citrus fruits like lime, orange, or lemon to lessen the acidity level of your soil.
Because these fruits contain acid, it may seem as if they would enhance acidity, but I assure you that this is not the case. The exact reverse is true. Alkalinity is actually raised as a result!
Alkaline-loving plants include the following:
- Honey Locust is a flowering plant
- The Austrian Pane
- Ash Trees in a Green Color
Reduce the alkalinity of your garden’s soil by purchasing soil sulfur from your local gardening supply store, like Arizona’s Best.
Plants that thrive in acidic soil include the following:
- Pieris from Japan
- Anemone Wood
- I’m Dying Within Me
When Is It Best To Test The Soil PH?
You can check your soil’s pH at any time. Before I plant anything fresh in my garden or container, I, of course, take measurements.
When the weather suddenly shifts, I also check the soil’s pH level to make sure it’s not too acidic or alkaline.
The acidity of the soil can be affected by rain. As a result, you can bet I check the pH of my garden’s soil the day after it has rained.
Even if it hasn’t rained recently, you should still check the pH of your soil. Every three to five months, I run them. Because I also grow some leafy greens like spinach, I’m concerned about the acidity of my soil.