September 19, 2012
I see other reviews on here talking about "send your soil in to a lab" or other alternatives to this product. Fact is, if you were willing to spend the money to send your soil to a lab, you probably wouldn't be buying this. Probably like you, I bought this because it's cheap and it'll give you a basic idea of what's going on in your garden. Here's how it works:
You get 4 vials, one for soil pH, and one each for Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Essentially, you place the directed amount of soil/water mixture into each vial, and add the contents of the corresponding color-coded capsule. The capsules look like pills, the type you can pull apart and the contents spill out. After you empty the capsule into the vial, you place the rubber cap on the vial, shake and let it sit for the specified amount of time. All the quantities and times are clearly listed in the manual. Each vial has a color chart that is near your soil sample window which allows you to compare the color to the chart. This is how you know where your soil stands as far as pH, N, P and K.
I've seen some reviews on here saying it's "impossible" to empty the capsules into the vials because they're too small. True, they're small but if you twist them and carefully pull them apart over the vial it's really pretty easy. If you're elderly or have trouble holding your hands still (or you're just spastic), it might be a task for you but it's still doable. It's really not very difficult.
I've tested my soil maybe 10 times using this product, and it's never let me down. It doesn't give you an exact number or anything, but any time I've shown low on something, I amended the soil and a few days later it tested fine and the plants looked healthier.
It's not extremely precise, but it's reliable and it will definitely tell you if there is something dangerously askew in your garden. My suggestion to the guy that only uses the lab is that either he got a defective one, or he's not cleaning them properly after each use.
You should clean them with water thoroughly after each use and don't mix them up. You don't want to use the pH vial for the K test, or any other variant. Keep them clean, follow the directions and don't mix and match.
My only complaint is that the vials can be knocked over easily as they have an oddly poor center of gravity. Once the cap is on, who cares. But, when you're filling them or trying to empty the capsule into them, it's pretty easy to knock them over and that's just a big bag of bollox.
Anyhow, to sum up, for the money, this product can really, really help. If you're looking for something more precise then spend some more money or send to a lab like the other guy said. If you just want to make sure everything is generally good in your garden, this will probably suit you just fine.
Hope this helps
December 07, 2018
I can't say for sure it's accurate but I sure hope so because I bought fertilizers based on these readings.
I would not buy again because so few capsules are included and replacement ones seem hard to get at a fair price.
I have a whole empty yard to plant, which has miserable clay soil I need to ammend, fertilize or replace depending on the needs of each plant. I tested five zones of existing soil, and tested a plot where I had mixed in ammendments galore the year before, to see if I'd achieved normalcy there, and had wasted a couple "pills" learning the technique... and tgat was all, I ran out of one "pill" type. I had hoped to be able to double check a second sample from each zone, and also test them all again after working on the soil. But what they give you just doesn't go far at all. And you can't use the rest once one type runs out. What good is checking your potassium level if you can't check your nitrogen, right? You need the whole set of results to plan what to add.
I hated the testing vials. They're skinnier on the bottom than the top, making them a bit unstable.
It seems safe enough, if you're worried about that. I was not especially careful and likely got all four powders on my hands, but despite being a very sensitive person, I got zero irritation (washed well, as soon as I was finished, of course). Also none of it smells at all. Though I certainly wouldn't do it with a fan on or anything else that'd stir up the dust into your eyes or breathing air.
Ideally I'd love to see a manufacturer make two kits, one for soil that is known to be poor, one for normal, and the testing chemicals modified in type or concentration so as to provide an appropriate level of sensitivity. Because most of my tests didn't change color at all our soil is so lousy- I'm right off the chart, maybe by a little or maybe by a lot. I see a lot of other reviewers saying the same. I think most people who buy things like this do so because their soil is known to be poor. So it's annoying that the kit is calibrated to leave so many of us outside the range.
If you have pretty good soil but just want to fine tune it, then you might find the kit great for your needs.
In the spring I will fertilize according to what this kit told me, and I guess give it time to settle in, then maybe in the fall, source some more "pills" for this so I can see what levels I get then. I'll make just small changes, to hopefully get into a range where the kit can give a reading, and then I can add more fertilizer with precision.
Or maybe I should just send some soil to a lab. Probably easier & will give me more confidence.
March 21, 2012
Spring is here and I thought it would be a good idea to test my lawn and garden soil for the first time before adding any fertilizers. This Rapitest kit seemed like a good idea so I bought in.
The kit comes nicely packaged with four containers and matching "test pills" in orange(potash), blue(phosphorus), green(pH), and purple(Nitrogen) colors. The pills are enclosed in individual resealable plastic bags and each color has a quantity of 10. Unfortunately, my package came with nine purple pills instead of 10 so I'll be doing one less Nitrogen test.
The kit also comes with a plastic dropper to add water or sample to the test container. However, it is small and almost impossible to clean since there is no way to insert any cleaning brush in the tiny hole. Your only remedy for consistent test result is to rinse it a number of times, or just use a different dropper made of glass.
The test itself is relatively simple, but is a bit involved. The pH test is almost instantaneous by adding soil sample and water to recommended lines in the container. However, the rest of the three tests require a separate container to hold 1 cup of soil sample to 5 cups of water mixed well, then settled from 30 minutes to 24 hours. The mixture is then used to conduct the other tests in the same manner by adding a pill and sample in a container.
I have no way to verify the correctness of the results without contacting a local authority. So, I'll skip this portion of the review.
After having done the test once, this kit is going on my shelf and probably will just gather dust for the life of this product. I've decided to just return to my old ways of observing the greens and guessing what they need. I'm starting this spring with the usual pre-emergent for the lawn and compost for the planted bed.
Recommended to those with the urge to know, but absolutely not a requirement. If you have a suffering lawn or plant bed, call a pro for advice.
May 18, 2019
Look - I should have done this 8 years ago. Nope. I fell for the marketing - the four applications a year of the recommended seasonal product. And every year my lawn would look horrible around August or September.
In hindsight a wise soil chemist could have likely named the issue - deficiencies in crucial nutirents and a pH problem - just by looking at the weeds in the lawn. I am not a soil chemist. Other than the blonde in the front row of freshman chemistry which was only offered at 7.30am I found most of the class boring. Uninteresting. Incomprehensible. I would have flunked if it were not for her being assigned my lab section and giving me a reason to attend a 2.30pm Friday lab.
While her name is long forgotten to the nearly three decades since that class, two things I did not forget: the way she looked at me with utter disgust one of the many times I failed to offer an even halfway compentent response to question, and the importance of following directions in chemistry experiments in order to obtain accurate results.
Not being a soil chemist I did the test - on two different areas of my 3,000 square foot lawn. And what I found was that despite my poor attempts at regular lime applications the pH was 5.5. And my occasional and relatively inconsistent application of whatever fertilizer was both in season and on sale left me with a complete and utter deficiency in Nitrogen and Potassium (the N and the P of the N-P-K number). Which - as any soil chemist will tell you - results in the perfect growing conditions for goosegrass and violets - two realtively common weeds that are a regular sight in my lawn.
In conclusion - think of this handy soil test as an insurance policy against applications of the wrong fertilizer - or in this case - insurance against wasting money applying fertilizer when the pH is 5.5. And oh yeah - perhaps I should do something about my longstanding policy of being utterly ignorant about chemistry.
Do you like chemistry experiments?
May 12, 2017
If you're reading this, ask yourself a quick question: Did you enjoy chemistry experiments in school? If the answer is yes, read on. If the answer is no then this product is probably not for you.
Instructions provided with this test kit are very detailed and require pretty thorough preparation that might take a full day (ie it's not quick). You have to be very precise with quantities and the soil has to be prepared properly for testing as well as during testing itself. A single missed instruction may compromise your test results (like ensuring that pH test has time to settle but nutrient tests are shaken up with flakes suspended in liquid). Emptying little capsules of test powder require real finesse as well. Precision is the name of the game here, and it's significantly harder than using a test strip or a pH meter with two metal probes.
Now, I actually enjoyed chemistry experiments in school and have a very detail-oriented mind. I found this process interesting but quite cumbersome. It also comes with 5 capsules for each nutrient (and 10 for pH) and refills aren't easy to find. The digital aspect of this test is also a bit of a joke. There is a while LED in the tester with a sensor on the other side. Readings are pretty stable from test to test, but maximum PH this reader measures is 7.5 and you have no idea if you're at 7.3 or much higher than 7.5. My digital tester with two metal probes measured between 7.2 and 7.8 around different points of the yard, but the tester just showed a 7.5 reading.
All-in-all this is both too gimmicky and cumbersome for my taste. It does seem to work, but I haven't compared test results to a real lab. That's why I rated it "just Okay". I think your money would be better spent on the test strip test like Rapitest 1601 instead of this one though.
July 13, 2015
The kit was very easy to use, however, as I have nothing else to compare the results to, I have to trust what it's telling me about my soil. So my review doesn't say much for the accuracy of the test, just how easy it was to use. I did test different areas of my yard, under a tree vs in the open, and garden hose water vs reverse osmosis water, and there were slight variations and all tests led me to the fact my soil was Nitrogen, difficient, which I already suspected.
Otherwise, a couple things to note, I looked into using distilled water vs reverse osmosis water, for the test, as I was getting conflicting advice and it turns out (per what I read) distilled water has a pH of about 5.5 vs reverse osmosis has a pH of 0, so even though most testing kits say use distilled water I used Reverse Osmosis water for supposedly more accurate results.
Also, I noticed the Phosphorus test, in particular, was confusing as after, adding the capsule, shaking and waiting for ten minutes there was a dark blue area in the bottom of the "comparator", meaning the capsule didn't seem to disolve and the color was concentrated at the bottom and so I had to decide to either shake the "comparator" again or consider the test was showing my soil was Phosphorus depleted.
Opening the capsules into the "comparator" is easy if you just rest your fingers on top of the opening while twisting the capsule open slowly.
Based on the Nitrogen difficient/depleted results I will be taking measures to handle this. Per the test instructions I should be adding "Dried Blood" and "Nitrate of Soda" though in what amounts, I'm confused. So I will go to my local lawn and garden center and read the instructions on the packages.. Good Luck!!!
April 25, 2012
My husband and I recently bought a house and are totally redoing the landscape. This has been a massive undertaking. I bought this soil testing kit because I wanted to make sure I properly planted and fertilized my plants. Just about all of my readings came back average, which isn't too surprising considering my samples were mostly from flowers beds (lots of topsoil). However, because I had six soil samples, I grew tired of testing after a while. There are four things to test for, which means 24 different readings must be taken. I quit toward the end out of sheer boredom. I also threw the rest of the kit out because I was so frustrated with it that I never want to use it again. Next year, I will invest in a quality digital tester; much better for my short attention span.
The actual kit works just fine. I kept getting average readings at first and thought maybe the kit was garbage. So, I a tiny amount of white vinegar in the acid tester and the water turned blood red immediately. So, it works. I cleaned the tester out well and carried on with confidence. For the price, I think this is a great kit for someone a bit more invested in their gardening than me. Or, for someone not testing as many samples. Also, I don't understand why so many people are complaining about the capsules and dropper. For the capsules, just grab each end and slowly twist the capsule apart; it's not difficult at all. My only suggestion is to make sure your hands are dry before you touch each capsule. Wet fingers make the capsule sticky and more difficult to open. And, the hole for filling the tester with water and soil is plenty big enough.
Charles L. Packer
August 30, 2009
I just finished my initial test using this kit. I recommend it. I read the reviews prior to making my decision to purchase it. I suspect that I am better than most in filtering the subjective from reviews. Despite what many reviewers found less than acceptable with this product, there were many reviews that seem to indicate that this testing product performed well and accurately--especially as compared to easy to use, multi-function meters. The main complaint seem to be to difficulty in extracting the testing powder from the capsules. While I suspected that this was more a matter of people being accustomed to easy to use products--probably the reason for the dominance of said multimeter, probe testers, nevertheless, I was a bit anxious when I arrived at this point. It proved to be easy--just hold the capsule upright, the overlaying end on top, gently loosen the halves by slightly twisting back-and-forth, then remove the top portion of the capsule and dump the contents into the testing chamber. One recommendation: while the instructions say to use distilled or bottled water, I suggest using only distilled water. Bottled water varies greatly. You don't want to be testing the properties of the water--that is, you want to "control" your test. One last point (plus one editorial comment) is that you want to allow a few minutes for the tests to stabilize; and regardless of the lack of "refills"--or the price of said, you probably should ask yourself if the price is still warranted. I suspect the answer will be, yes. Oh, and my wife thinks the colors are pretty--there's your subjective comment.
May 12, 2018
I have been struggling with an area of my garden and decided to try this. They were relatively easy (and pretty fun) to use with the exception of the chemical reactant capsules. Directions are great, and how to manage deficiencies addresses. But the capsules need to be DRY. Once you open the package and they are exposed to moisture in the air, they become difficult to open. You have to fill the testing unit with dirt and water per directions. Then you need to open a capsule by pulling it apart and dump powder into a tiny cell in the unit. DO READ DIRECTIONS. Just know that the testing process for pH is different to that for nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus.
FIRST - be sure that once you have the unit ready with dirt and water. Be sure to stabilize it because it can be easily knocked over in the process of struggling to open a capsule and dump the contents into the testing cell. My husband held it steady on the counter for me.
SECOND - the first capsule will open easily but you will have difficulty with the others once they've been exposed to any ambient moisture. I held the capsule upright, gave it a couple of firm flicks with my finger, and snipped the very end off with a scissors then dumped the contents into the test cell. You will need to flick with your finger to get all contents out and into the cell.
THIRD - be sure to record your results. Derive a table so that you can add later results after you've done any amendments so that you can tell that you're getting your soil corrected in the direction that you need.
July 06, 2016
Exactly as depicted and described.
I got this to test the main nutrients in my soil (obviously) for my vegetable garden. I then proceeded to have a fun "science day" with my sister as we tested the soil. Results are quick and easy to read.
I have no way to tell if the results are accurate, but it said my potash, nitrogen, phosphorous, and pH are fine and my garden has been doing great, so I assume it is telling me the truth!
All of my results were easy to read. I don't know if they would be as easy to read for the lower levels of nutrients if your soil water is cloudy.
Everything is easily color coded for the different tests and nutrients.
The containers seal very well.
The instructions are very clear.
There is a reorder slip with the kit so I don't have to search for how to get refills for more tests.
It comes with 10 testing capsules for each nutrient (40 capsules total).
I think the design is good, however there were a few minor annoyances:
The test capsules are difficult to open and I ended up spilling the powder a few times.
The test containers have tiny plastic feet to make them stand easily, but those feet are smaller than the blob of plastic on their bottom from manufacturing. I need to sand off that blob for them to stand up and not topple over.
Once the lids are on they fall over quite easily.
Altogether, I like the product, and the annoyances in design are not a problem.
If nothing else it is a great teaching tool and science experiment kit!
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