The Best Soil Test Kits, Tested and Reviewed

We tried the top test kits available to land managers and food plotters
We tested the best soil test kits.

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Soil quality is a major component of growing healthy food plots, as well as other things, such as gardens and yards. There are many different soil test kits available for everyone from the one-plot hobbyist to die-hard land managers. That’s why I sorted through many of the offerings and designated the best soil test kits.

How I Chose the Best Soil Test Kits

Naturally, where you live impacts the type of soil that lies there. Silt, loam, clay, and sand are the most common soil properties, and each of these take a different percentage of the soil composition ratio depending on geographical location. This impacts soil pH, and there are, of course, numerous soil elements to consider, including: macronutrients, micronutrients, pH (acidity and alkalinity), soil temperature, soil moisture, light availability, etc. But analyzing these things requires a soil test kit.

When comparing different soil tests, there are also various things to think about, including accuracy (most important), ease of use, results speed, price, and more. Different soil tests perform differently regarding each of these factors, and choosing the right one will depend on your priorities.

So, what’s right for you? The typical soil test types include analog, chemical, digital, laboratory, professional, and strips. Each one of these are best-suited for certain situations. Here are some of my top recommendations.

Best Soil Test Kits: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit

Best Overall

Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit

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Key Features 

  • Results processed by a professional-grade laboratory
  • Provides planting and maintenance instructions
  • Suggests planting dates
  • Price: $15

Pros

  • Includes very accurate results
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to understand

Cons

  • Only includes one test
  • Must wait for results

Ultimately, this soil test kit takes top honors because it is one of the most accurate and most affordable test kits on the market. Plus, it offers an easy-to-use format that also comes with an included phone consultation with a professional, which is something most soil test kits don’t include. It is a very accurate, results-producing test people can rely on. 

After sending in your Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit sample, you'll wait a week for highly accurate results.
After sending in your Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit sample, you'll wait a week for highly accurate results. Josh Honeycutt

The Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit is a great option for those seeking the utmost accuracy in their soil samples. Obviously, it requires a pulled soil sample, completed form, mail-in effort, and a wait period. That said, for those with enough time, the accuracy of the results are incredible.

Fortunately, the typical wait time is one week. And once the results come in, these are easy to translate into in-the-field soil correction. Plus, it offers incredible customer service with the included professional phone consultation. 

Best for Fast, Accurate Results: Antler King Instant pH Soil Test Kit

Best for Fast, Accurate Results

Antler King Instant pH Soil Test Kit

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Key Features 

  • Near-instant results (20 minutes)
  • Four tests included
  • Price: $15

Pros

  • No lab needed
  • Good instructions
  • Easy-to-read results
  • Cost-effective

Cons

  • Must use distilled water for testing
  • Only has four tests

The Antler King Instant pH Soil Test Kit is an excellent offering. This test is one of the most accurate no-lab-required tests on the market. You get results in 20 minutes rather than a week or more of waiting.

In addition to the basic readings, it also includes a fertilizer utilization chart with 10 helpful hints for better food plots. Plus, the pH result readings are very easy to understand and interpret.

With only four tests included, that’s fewer than some options on the market, but more than others. If there are only a few small food plots to take samples for, or one large area with multiple spots to test, one kit will work. However, multiple kits are needed for additional areas.

Best Digital: Luster Leaf RapiTest 1605 Digital Soil Test

Best Digital Soil Test

Luster Leaf RapiTest 1605 Digital Soil Test

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Key Features 

  • Works digitally
  • Tests pH, N, P, and K
  • LED technology
  • Price: $35

Pros

  • Push a button to get results in seconds
  • Small, compact sizing
  • Offers pH optimization numbers for many plant species

Cons

  • Higher pricing
  • Risk of tearing up

The Luster Leaf RapiTest 1605 Digital Soil Test is a great selection for those who want a digital tester. This model operates with the push of a button and gets results in seconds. It performs 25 tests, including 10 for pH, and five each for nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potash (K).

This tester is 1.54 inches by 5.83 inches by 12.2 inches in size. It weighs 7.4 ounces. This makes it the perfect size to place in a pack and carry afield without being too cumbersome in size. And more importantly, there aren’t a bunch of parts to keep up with.

Luster Leaf’s Digital Soil Test is easy to use, and it’s simple and quick. This is especially good for those who are up against time and can’t wait for weeks-long mail-in test results. Plus, there is included info on pH preferences for over 450 plant species. It even shows how to adjust the pH for each one.

Best Chemical: Luster Leaf 1663 Professional Soil Kit

Best Chemical Test

Luster Leaf 1663 Professional Soil Kit

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Key Features 

  • Works via chemical reaction
  • Includes pH preferences for hundreds of plants
  • Includes tips for planting
  • 80 tests
  • Price: $30

Pros

  • Very accurate results
  • Comes with heavy-duty plastic case

Cons

  • More expensive
  • A lot of pieces to keep up with

The Luster Leaf 1663 Professional Soil Kit is like other Luster Leaf products—reliable. There’s a reason several categories were won by this company. Overall, it produces quality items, as well as a range of options to satisfy different customers.

This tester includes 80 total tests, which will last quite a while. It features 20 tests for pH, N, P, and K. Compare that to the lower volumes of other tests and the price is great. Add in the professional aspect and accuracy of this test kit and it looks even better.

Those who use this test kit can expect a professional-grade feel and operation. This test will require slightly more experience, but for those that have it, or those willing to learn, it’s certainly a credible market option.

Best Analog: Luster Leaf RapiTest 4-Way Analyzer

Best Analog Test

Luster Leaf RapiTest 4-Way Analyzer

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Key Features 

  • Measures soil pH, moisture, fertility, and sunlight
  • Price: $26

Pros

  • Easy-to-read scales
  • Simple use
  • No batteries required
  • Great for those needing many different readings

Cons

  • Slightly less accurate than other options
  • Less detailed than other options

The Luster Leaf RapiTest 4-Way Analyzer is a great selection for those who want to test for pH, moisture, fertility, and sunlight. This unit does all four and doesn’t require the user to purchase multiple testers for the different categories. This tester also does not need batteries.

The Luster Leaf RapiTest 4-Way Analyzer doesn't need batteries.
The Luster Leaf RapiTest 4-Way Analyzer doesn't need batteries. Josh Honeycutt

The meter is calibrated to the Mean Solar Table, which was developed by the USDA. For lighting purposes, the purple chromatic filter color corrects light for plant optimization. The entire unit is compact and weighs 3.2 ounces.

The biggest benefit is the four-in-one meter. This multi-purpose option gives you the ability to test the soil in various ways without the bulk of added testers. Keep the probes clean, and it gives pretty accurate readings.

Best for Professionals: Killer Food Plots Professional Soil Testing Kit

Best for Professionals

Killer Food Plots Professional Soil Testing Kit

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Key Features 

  • Offers a soil blueprint remedy
  • Price: $22

Pros

  • Has a professional-grade feel
  • Easy to use and read
  • Provides very accurate results
  • Few components to sort through
  • Simple form fill-out

Cons

  • More expensive than some options
  • Has a waiting period for results

The Killer Food Plots Professional Soil Testing Kit is a great selection for those wanting a professional set of results. Simply take the soil sample, fill out the form, and turn it into the professionals for an accurate soil assessment.

At $22 per single sample, it is pricier than most options available, especially given the one-time use. However, the results are more accurate than a lot of the options available to consumers. It’s worth the money when amplifying your food plot. Overall, this selection gets the job done well. You won’t have to second-guess the results and can trust in the findings.

Best Test Strips: Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit Strips

Best Test Strips Test

Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit Strips

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Key Features 

  • Calibrated for soil pH testing
  • Results in 60 seconds
  • 100 soil pH tests
  • Price: $15

Pros

  • Fast at-home results
  • Ability to test more areas
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Less intuitive than other options
  • Slightly less accurate than other options

The Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit Strips are great for those who prefer the test strip route. Obviously, these are less popular with the advent of modern soil test kit. That said, these still hold value, especially for those who have many different soil samples to pull on a budget. This allows the consumer to test more areas with less money. Even so, an analog or digital is better suited for increased testing.

This unit is calibrated specifically for fast soil pH testing. It does offer results as quick as 60 seconds, too. Plus, it comes with 100 strips, which will last much longer than many other test kits. Furthermore, it includes a detailed pH testing handbook with soil application charts.

Some soil tests don’t have as much range as this one, too. It tests soil between the 3.5-9 pH range. That’s beneficial for those likely to have soil at one extreme or the other. All said, this is a great option for those wanting test strips.

Alternate Market Options

The Luster Leaf RapiTest Soil Test Kit is another viable option.
The Luster Leaf RapiTest Soil Test Kit is another viable option. Josh Honeycutt

If the above options for some reason don’t check the correct boxes for you, there are numerous other options available to consumers. The below options did not win awards here but will certainly produce a viable soil test. Here are a few alternative selections.

How to Choose the Best Soil Test Kit

Choosing the best soil test kit isn’t easy. That’s why I’ve sorted through many different products on the market, tested items, and made designations based on what they do best. I’ve done a lot of the hard work for you.

As with most product categories, product testing isn’t so much about apples-to-apples comparisons as it is determining what each option does best. Then, comparing those items to similar items that also do those same things very well. Once you group items in this manner, then it’s much simpler to accurately determine what is best-suited for a given purpose.

Therefore, when choosing the best soil test kit for you, it’s important to understand your needs, expectations, and timeline. Then, choose the soil test kit that best aligns with those three factors.

FAQs

Q: Why do I need a soil test kit?

The soil can be alkaline, neutral, or acidic, which is associated with a pH range. Depending on where it falls within that spectrum will determine what soil treatments it needs for optimized plant growth. A soil test reveals these soil needs.

Q: What does a soil test kit do?

A soil test kit determines the soil pH, which in turn helps determine what fertilize and lime is needed to correct it.

Q: What is the best soil test kit for me?

This depends on your specific needs and expectations. Different types of soil kits operate differently, and offer a variety of pros and cons. If you want immediate results, try a pH strip testing method like the Antler King Instant pH Soil Test Kit or the Garden Tutor Soil pH Test Kit Strips. For highly accurate lab results try the Whitetail Institute Laboratory Soil Test Kit or the Killer Food Plots Professional Soil Testing Kit.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s clear that there are many great soil test kits on the market. Those that didn’t receive an award still do very well and will certainly provide accurate soil test results. That said, consider our findings on each category above, and keep their pros and cons in mind during the selection process.

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