Register free!


Reply
 
Thread Tools   Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-09-2008, 11:12 AM
ICT Bill ICT Bill is offline
LawnSite Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Howard County MD
Posts: 4,120
Soil tests and the equipment to do it

I have been thinking about soil tests and what equipment you could use to do it yourself.
I understand in spring there may be an overwhelming amount of them so it would justify sending them out, just not enough time in the day.
But what if you wanted to "SEE" what was going on in the soil while you were on site.
what equipment would you recommend?
I have heard of PH meters that are only $70 to $80, seems reasonable

Someone asked me how to do a soil organic matter (SOM) test in the field or back at the shop later, how do you do one of those?

Is there a reference book that has these things in them?
I guess we need to lay out what exactly is tested in a soil test and see what would be cost effective or not
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-09-2008, 02:00 PM
Kiril Kiril is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: District 9 CA
Posts: 18,318
If you have something similar to this:

http://www.ams-samplers.com/Environmental_Kits.shtm

and get a soil test kit:

http://www.lamotte.com/pages/soil/modelast.html

and the manual for the above test kit: http://www.lamotte.com/pages/common/...t/ast-manu.pdf

or build your own

http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/assessment/test_kit.html

You have pretty much everything you need for basic field tests and for collecting high quality samples for lab analysis.

Also doesn't hurt to know the soil series your dealing with.

http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/a...oilSurvey.aspx

Last edited by Kiril; 01-09-2008 at 02:09 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-09-2008, 02:06 PM
cpel2004's Avatar
cpel2004 cpel2004 is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Zone 10b
Posts: 1,416
Are you talking about a soil tester or a PH tester? I havent used one personally but I herd Kelway is the industry leader.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-09-2008, 02:11 PM
Kiril Kiril is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: District 9 CA
Posts: 18,318
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpel2004 View Post
Are you talking about a soil tester or a PH tester? I havent used one personally but I herd Kelway is the industry leader.
I have a Kelway tester (moisture + pH), however I wouldn't recommend using it for anything other than a quick and dirty test.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-09-2008, 02:20 PM
cpel2004's Avatar
cpel2004 cpel2004 is offline
LawnSite Bronze Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Zone 10b
Posts: 1,416
Kiril share a little more about your experiences with the Kelway, please?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-09-2008, 04:16 PM
Kiril Kiril is offline
LawnSite Fanatic
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: District 9 CA
Posts: 18,318
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpel2004 View Post
Kiril share a little more about your experiences with the Kelway, please?
I'll do ya one better and illustrate the use of it.

1 & 2) Tester and case
3) Tester showing length of probe area
5) Showing depth of test
5) Testing pH (lower than I would have expected)


Note - moisture tested around 70%, a little lower than expected, Mr. Lincoln showed a reading of 6.

Thoughts.

1) Need adequate soil moisture to get relatively accurate pH reading
2) Limited depth of testing (most suitable for turf)
3) Requires conditioning film to maintain some level of accuracy

So in conclusion, good tester for getting a general idea of soil moisture and pH, however I am not comfortable using it for any tests that require a high degree of accuracy.
Attached Images
         
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-09-2008, 05:16 PM
ICT Bill ICT Bill is offline
LawnSite Platinum Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Howard County MD
Posts: 4,120
So we need to test for all of these to get a good profile of what is going on in the soil nutrient wise?

pH
Nitrate Nitrogen
Phosphorus
Potassium
Humus (Organic Matter)
Calcium
Magnesium
Ammonia Nitrogen
Manganese
Aluminum
Nitrite Nitrogen
Sulfur
Chloride
Ferric Iron
Copper

That picture on Lamottes site got my heart racing, just like when I was a kid and I got the chemistry kit for my birthday. so many colored bottles and so little time.

With that many tests to do it would seem to me that you would need to get a bunch of samples together and sit down and do them all at once. I don't think you drag that kit out into the field

I thought there may be a kit out there that you just plugged into the soil and Viola all kinds of reading come up. But you would need a different probe for each test I would think.

OK back to reality, what basics tests would you need to do if you were just trying to get a picture of a new clients yard that you were going to take care of for the year?
I've never heard of aluminum deficiency
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-09-2008, 06:22 PM
Organic a go go Organic a go go is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Chicago IL
Posts: 211
Bill,

Would you put Total Exchange Capacity on that list
or no?

As a side note I sometimes despair when I think of
all the variables potentially in play going organic.
It puts organic lawn care cos. at a disadvantage
to a degree I think because we need so much more
detailed information and there isn't a great way to
get it quickly.

I rarely send off soil tests and I don't love it. When I get
a new customer I'll do a quickie/cheap ph test and then
eyeball the soil for earthworms or burrow holes and then
see what the weeds are telling me, and on that note I
could stand to learn quite a bit more. Anyway I just proceed
as though every yard is going to benefit from more OM but
obviously some spring to life more quickly than others.

Obviously I could work more effectively and efficiently if I could
tailor inputs for each yard but I feel like the lag in test to result
to application puts me behind the 8-ball.

Thats one reason I was
curious about refractomers earlier. If I can't get a quickie soil test
my hope is that I can find something that I can use as a correlative
indicator of whats going on even if I can't put too fine a point on it.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-09-2008, 06:51 PM
tadhussey tadhussey is offline
LawnSite Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Redmond, WA
Posts: 294
what about a microscope to look at the organisms present in the soil? That will give you clues as to pH or other potential problems you may need to remediate.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-09-2008, 07:11 PM
Organic a go go Organic a go go is offline
LawnSite Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Chicago IL
Posts: 211
Yes microscopes would be another good tool of course. I'd love to use it if for no other reason than I think it would impress the heck out of most customers to pull up and start blinding them with science but I've always been a little intimidated by the learning curve. Not the learning curve of using a microscope, I didn't sleep in chemistry *every*day, but the curve of developing a context to put the information into. Assuming I understood *what* I was looking at Im not at all confident that I'd be able to assign it a helpful relative value. Put that one on my "to learn" list too.....

What magnification are do use?
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump





Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright ©1998 - 2012, LawnSite.comô - Moose River Media
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:25 AM.

Page generated in 0.10940 seconds with 8 queries