Month/Year of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Geography and Geology

First Advisor

Dr. Ashlee Dere


Soil analysis can traditionally be carried out by professional labs for a certain price, but this price adds up quickly when running many samples—as is often the case when pursuing a research question. Price is of particular concern in the classroom setting, where funding for student research can be limited.

This project examines several commercially produced soil test kits that are capable of testing a soil’s pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium; parameters which are of primary importance for plant growth. The project provides an overview of each kit’s contents and properties, a scientific assessment of their precision and accuracy, and a qualitative assessment of their suitability for classroom use. The applicability of home aquarium tests kits was also explored as another potential route towards quantitative nutrient measurement.

One soil kit consistently distinguished between the comparative properties of two different soils on all parameters except pH, even when its specific values were vague or inaccurate; it may have applicability in a classroom setting. Another kit provided highly inconsistent results, and furthermore provided insufficient information to allow even a very rough conversion to quantitative soil nutrient values; it is unlikely to be viable for classroom use.

The home aquarium test kit provided the most accurate pH measurements, and was also able to successfully sequence the comparative phosphorus concentration in two different soils. However, it provided both an inaccurate measure and incorrect sequence of comparative nitrogen values. Potential explanations for this are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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Soil Science Commons