Soil testing kits

Are these small soil testing kits reasonably reliable? They wouldn't have to be 95% accurate to put you in the ballpark, and point you in the direction of what additives are needed. Do you use them, or rely on your county agent for analyzing samples? TKS for any advice.
Jon
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The cheap ones usually have almost no valid results, especially the ones which rely on colorimetry.
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FarmerDill wrote:

And assuming that you're in the states, your local county co-operative will do an analysis at a cost which is significantly less than it'll cost to get a test kit that will be accurate.
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All of this is correct, but if you live in a place (like mine) where I have former bog patches and sand dunes, grass and woodland, then those test kits will at least give you a map of your soil. If you have a small plot with uniform soi, then sure, it is as you say.
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The cheap soil testing kits (using color indicators) have been reasonably accurate for my soil. Comparisons with lab tests have been pretty close. A good lab can tell you a lot more, but I still use the cheap kits as a way of judging variation over space and time, only occasionally using a lab to make sure things aren't totally out of whack.
BTW, in this coastal city environment, there was no "county agent" with a free/cheap lab. I ended up using the U/Mass-Amhearst lab, which was quite reasonable and extensive in their testing.
Of course, the cheap "meters" (particularly the pH meter) are completely worthless AFAICT.
Your Soil May Vary...
    -frank
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Jon <Jon> wrote:

whack.
with
completely
Our Coop Extension doesn't do soil testing either but they maintain a list of commercial soil testing laboratories. As to the soil testing kits, the mail-in kits that you purchase at garden centers have given good results, but the ones with the chemicals included are pretty variable. May be volatile chemicals with a short shelk life.
Olin

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Thanks Folks. I think I get the ideas.
Jon

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