Do it yourself soil testing?

Howdy,
I want to test the nitrogen level of my garden.
Can you suggest a source for a do-it-yourself soil test kit that works? (I have found one that doesn't. It does fine for phosphorous, and potassium, but the nitrogen test seems to be bogus.)
Thanks for any information,
--
Kenneth

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have you tried your local extension agent office? thats not do it yourself but a better overall report

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Most DIY soil testing kits are pretty innaccurate, except those that test for soil pH. You would be better off having a professional testing done, often a service offerred by your local extension office. Call to find out how to provide a proper sampling. The fees involved are not exorbitant. Make sure you request a test specifically for nitrogen levels - for various reasons, this is not always included in routine soil testing.
Having said that, it is a good bet your soil, if not regularly amended over the years, is nitrogen deficient. Most naturally occurring nitrogen is derived from organic matter and if the soil has not been regularly amended with compost or other organic matter, nitrogen levels will be low. Even if fertilized with a chemcial nitrogen fertilizer, the levels could be low due to nitrification or leaching. Nitrogen is the one elemental soil nutrient that tends to need regular replenishing, usually best accomplished by regular amending or top dressing with a good form of organic matter.
pam - gardengal
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On Sun, 23 May 2004 13:26:19 GMT, "Pam - gardengal"

Hi Pam,
I thank you for your interesting comments.
I had contacted my extension service and there are two problems. The first is that they are rather remarkably unresponsive to questions.
The other is that they offer a wide variety of testing services, but, to my surprise none include nitrogen until one works their way up the food chain to the tests for commercial growers. In order to get a nitrogen test, I would have to pay about fifty bucks.
I thought that I might avoid that if there were a (reasonably) accurate test that I could do on my own.
Thanks again,
--
Kenneth

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I have never tried this myself, but fresh water test kits will test for nitrites and nitrates. free nitrogen isnt really useful unless you are planting legumes. you might try the nitrates test kit and see if that works. they are quite sensitive and probably pretty accurate. and online they price is 5-6 bucks. Ingrid

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On Sun, 23 May 2004 14:58:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote:

Hi Ingrid,
'Sounds like what I am looking for. Might you suggest a source?
Sincere thanks,
--
Kenneth

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On Sun, 23 May 2004 14:33:29 -0400, Kenneth

A couple good vendors:
www.thatpetplace.com
www.petsolutions.com
There are others, I have received good service from these two.
--

- Charles
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yep.

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On Sun, 23 May 2004 14:58:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote:

How would one interpret the results?
How much dirt to slosh around in how much water, and what would be good/marginal/poor levels measured as a result?
--

- Charles
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get a small bag of soil with fertilizers in it. take the same amount of the bagged soil and soil in the garden, use the same amount of water and let it sit the same time before decanting. compare. actually, the cheap soil test kits would be fine to use, just sub the fish nitrate test. Ingrid

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wrote:

Have you checked with neighboring counties? There can be a big difference between them sometimes. BTW, if you keep adding "safe" nitrogen you shouldn't have much to worry about. As long as you don't overdo it with too-strong sources of nitrogen you're pretty much certain to do more good than harm.
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On Sun, 23 May 2004 22:47:10 GMT, don' snipped-for-privacy@there.com (The Watcher) wrote:

Howdy,
And how would I know if were overdoing it without some sort of test?
Thanks,
--
Kenneth

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wrote:

If you get some fresh chicken manure and put it on a garden plant, you will soon know it, and you won't need ANY kind of test(other than the one you just failed). ;) In school, you get the lessons then you take the test. In life, you often take the test then learn the lessons. ;)
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wrote:

Oops, forgot to add, there are some other, less drastic ways to tell if you have too much nitrogen in your soil. If you're growing things like tomatoes and your plants grow strong and bushy but don't make many tomatoes, it might be too much nitrogen.
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plants. A bag or two is probably cheaper than a test.
Bob S.
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