To be effective in maintaining your soil, you need to know the health of your soil. Since, soil health is essential for good plant growth and crop production, knowing the exact nutritional status, will help you to ensure its health and restore what it lacks. For instance, balancing its pH level , its composition, drainage or the impact of biological activity.

The ideal way to go about soil testing is to have its samples sent to a lab for examination. But if you don’t have the money for it or find it too tedious there are other ways  to know about  the  soil before you start planting it?

Luckily, there are ways to do simple tests that let you know your soil quality. Keeping in mind the main attributes needed to know about soil health, here are some simple tests for anybody who’s a beginner in understanding his/her farm’s  soil quality.

  • Soil pH Test - This test works to determine how acidic or alkaline your soil is. It’s normally tested in a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14, 0 being most acidic, 7 neutral and 14 most alkaline. The best result for effective plant growth is between 6 and 7, and you can easily do this using pH test kits by following the instructions on how to use the test strips they provide. But you can also find out the pH level, in a more general way, without first using the testing strips, only vinegar, baking powder, and distilled water:
    • First, take a small handful of soil and rub your hands with it to clean yourself off anything that might affect the test results.
    • Second, take another clean handful of soil and wet it with vinegar. If you see it fizz and bubble, it means the soil is alkaline.
    • Third, with another handful of soil, add baking powder on it and then mix it with distilled water. If it fizzes with the baking powder, the soil is acidic.
  • Soil Type/Composition Test - Knowing your soil’s texture or composition will determine how you can manage it and help it grow your farm.  There are basically three types of soil to know: clay soil, which is rich in nutrients but has slow drainage, sandy soil, which does have quick draining but can’t easily maintain nutrients or moisture, and finally loamy soil, which is considered as an ideal type of soil since it retains moisture and nutrients without being soggy.  The easy way to determine a soil’s type is by taking a handful of moist soil from where you plan to grow your crops. Give it a tight squeeze and when you open your hand, either one of these three things should happen:
    • The soil holds its shape, and when you poke it, it sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil and should add extra organic matter to it.
    • The soil will break apart as soon as you open your hand, which means you have sandy soil. Here it’s recommended to also add organic matter but retract on any soil amendments or conditioners since it will drain out and contaminate the groundwater.
    • The soil will hold its shape but when you poke it, it crumbles. This means you have loamy soil which is said to be ideal for any farm and will need little-added nutrients.
  • Soil Drainage Test - The soil is supposed to be half solid matter and half porous, containing air and water equally, as per the plant's needs. To know if your plants can be prone to waterlogging or suffer from a permanent wilting point, you need to know how well your soil’s drainage is. One way to do this is as follows:
    • Cut out both ends of a coffee can.
    • Dig a hole 4 inches deep and wide enough for the can to tightly fit in.
    • Fill the can to the top with water and leave it for an hour.
    • Then use a ruler to measure how much your soil has drained in that hour. If it’s 2 or more inches or 5 centimeters, your soil has good drainage. If it takes more than 4 hours for the water to drain completely, the drainage is poor.
  • Soil Biological Test - Having earthworms living in your farm’s soil is a good indicator that its biological activity is good. Worms are an indicator that good microbes and bacteria are around which make your soil healthy. To do the soil biological test, follow these steps:
    • Make sure the soil is around 55 degrees (12.8 °C) and that it’s moist.
    • Dig a hole one foot deep and one foot across and place the undug soil on a piece of cardboard.
    • Sift through the soil as you put it back in the hole and count the earthworms that you find as you do. Ten worms mean your soil is good. Any less means that you might be lacking in organic matter, or that there is an imbalance in its pH level.

 

Doing these simple tests will help you manage your soil in a smart and effective way without ruining its ecosystem. Your soil health will be up to par for your farm to grow in, and knowing the quality of the soil yourself will ensure your plants’ survival.

 

 

https://www.thespruce.com/easy-diy-soil-tests-2539856

https://www.thespruce.com/the-importance-of-soil-testing-2152826

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-drainage.html

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-ph.html

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-texture.html

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/assessment/

 

 

 

 

To be effective in maintaining your soil, you need to know the health of your soil. Since, soil health is essential for good plant growth and crop production, knowing the exact nutritional status, will help you to ensure its health and restore what it lacks. For instance, balancing its pH level , its composition, drainage or the impact of biological activity.

The ideal way to go about soil testing is to have its samples sent to a lab for examination. But if you don’t have the money for it or find it too tedious there are other ways  to know about  the  soil before you start planting it?

Luckily, there are ways to do simple tests that let you know your soil quality. Keeping in mind the main attributes needed to know about soil health, here are some simple tests for anybody who’s a beginner in understanding his/her farm’s  soil quality.

  • Soil pH Test - This test works to determine how acidic or alkaline your soil is. It’s normally tested in a logarithmic scale from 0 to 14, 0 being most acidic, 7 neutral and 14 most alkaline. The best result for effective plant growth is between 6 and 7, and you can easily do this using pH test kits by following the instructions on how to use the test strips they provide. But you can also find out the pH level, in a more general way, without first using the testing strips, only vinegar, baking powder, and distilled water:
    • First, take a small handful of soil and rub your hands with it to clean yourself off anything that might affect the test results.
    • Second, take another clean handful of soil and wet it with vinegar. If you see it fizz and bubble, it means the soil is alkaline.
    • Third, with another handful of soil, add baking powder on it and then mix it with distilled water. If it fizzes with the baking powder, the soil is acidic.
  • Soil Type/Composition Test - Knowing your soil’s texture or composition will determine how you can manage it and help it grow your farm.  There are basically three types of soil to know: clay soil, which is rich in nutrients but has slow drainage, sandy soil, which does have quick draining but can’t easily maintain nutrients or moisture, and finally loamy soil, which is considered as an ideal type of soil since it retains moisture and nutrients without being soggy.  The easy way to determine a soil’s type is by taking a handful of moist soil from where you plan to grow your crops. Give it a tight squeeze and when you open your hand, either one of these three things should happen:
    • The soil holds its shape, and when you poke it, it sits stubbornly in your hand. This means you have clay soil and should add extra organic matter to it.
    • The soil will break apart as soon as you open your hand, which means you have sandy soil. Here it’s recommended to also add organic matter but retract on any soil amendments or conditioners since it will drain out and contaminate the groundwater.
    • The soil will hold its shape but when you poke it, it crumbles. This means you have loamy soil which is said to be ideal for any farm and will need little-added nutrients.
  • Soil Drainage Test - The soil is supposed to be half solid matter and half porous, containing air and water equally, as per the plant's needs. To know if your plants can be prone to waterlogging or suffer from a permanent wilting point, you need to know how well your soil’s drainage is. One way to do this is as follows:
    • Cut out both ends of a coffee can.
    • Dig a hole 4 inches deep and wide enough for the can to tightly fit in.
    • Fill the can to the top with water and leave it for an hour.
    • Then use a ruler to measure how much your soil has drained in that hour. If it’s 2 or more inches or 5 centimeters, your soil has good drainage. If it takes more than 4 hours for the water to drain completely, the drainage is poor.
  • Soil Biological Test - Having earthworms living in your farm’s soil is a good indicator that its biological activity is good. Worms are an indicator that good microbes and bacteria are around which make your soil healthy. To do the soil biological test, follow these steps:
    • Make sure the soil is around 55 degrees (12.8 °C) and that it’s moist.
    • Dig a hole one foot deep and one foot across and place the undug soil on a piece of cardboard.
    • Sift through the soil as you put it back in the hole and count the earthworms that you find as you do. Ten worms mean your soil is good. Any less means that you might be lacking in organic matter, or that there is an imbalance in its pH level.

 

Doing these simple tests will help you manage your soil in a smart and effective way without ruining its ecosystem. Your soil health will be up to par for your farm to grow in, and knowing the quality of the soil yourself will ensure your plants’ survival.

 

 

https://www.thespruce.com/easy-diy-soil-tests-2539856

https://www.thespruce.com/the-importance-of-soil-testing-2152826

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-drainage.html

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-ph.html

https://www.the-compost-gardener.com/soil-texture.html

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/soils/health/assessment/