Has anyone used an electronic PH meter? Seems like a good idea if it works, no need sending in samples.
I’ve got a pen type meter. I have to collect water that runs through the pot which isn’t fool proof. Also have an Accurate 8 pH and moisture meter. I don’t trust it much at all. Reading for pH is dependent on how wet the media is. So pH and water measurement aren’t really separated very well.
I have a Kelway pH soil meter. It runs about $80 including shipping. It is suppose to be accurate within +/- 0.2. However, pH is pretty complex, accuracy dependent on moisture content. Salt content will also affect pH. I use it to get me in the ballpark, but like Fruitnut, do not completely trust it. I do trust it enough if it reads 7.0 I know the pH is too high for blueberries. A cheaper soil probe I would not trust at all.
I’ve used the cheap $10 ones, and compared them with pH strips(cheap also). Sometimes they seem to be close, sometimes not. You have to clean the probe before each use (steel wool?), that helps for accuracy. Unfortunately I don’t trust the test strips. So what’s really needed is a way to test them for accuracy. You can spend $300 and get pH meters that presumably are accurate, but how would you even know that. I think you have to purchase a test solution (that has a fixed pH) and use that as a standard. Can anyone recommend a reputable pH test solution?
One of the problems with measuring pH is that it is a moving target. According to Texas A & M, farmers should get the soil test at the same time each year because it varies depending on the time of year. Moisture content at the time the soil sample is taken also affects pH. Soil pH also varies according to depth, the top soil ( A horizon) having a different pH than the second (B horizon). I have checked the pH at the top of a 15 gallon pot and it will be 1.0 higher than the bottom. They actually measure how much water they put in soil when they test pH (1:1 for sand and Loam, 2:1 for Clay).
All of the variables that can change PH are the reason that I asked this question. I understand moisture, mulch, time of year and depth of sample can change PH readings. So taking samples and sending them off, is a once or every two year estimate of true PH. Seems to me sticking a probe in the ground every few weeks may be a better idea if they work.
If you are talking about soil, especially tracking pH over time, send the soil samples to a lab. Use the same lab each time just in case while changing to a different lab you find they don’t both use the same method. At least, ask the lab(s) what method they use and stick with that method over time. The extractant used is also of critical importance.
Using quick and dirty gizmos will give you shaky results at best.
There was a post about this in GW some time ago. I remember reading a review on one somewhere and some guy did all sorts of tests and the results weren’t very impressive.
I have an inexpensive one and it’s total junk. I’ve not used the strips (at least I don’t think so), but the capsule tests are total garbage also…at least the ones I had were.
I got the $10 color matching using a liquid sample one from the local doper supply store. Works fine. How many samples do you take every year anyway?
I expect the high-dollar ones they sell work well too.
I’m of the opinion that pH isn’t crucial unless you are trying to raise blueberries or something.
I don’t take any samples anymore koko…for the reasons I mentioned as well as the fact, that I agree, for most stuff it’s not nearly as important as folks think (imo). Of course blueberries and the like are exceptions, as you noted.
I think ph is good to measure for to get a ballpark figure. If your growing blueberries it’s good to know the soil is not alkaline as mentioned.