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Testing Your Soil

The most basic measurement you'll need is the soil's pH. The pH is a measure of the soil's acidity or alkalinity. Different plants require different pH levels, so once you know your soil's pH, you can grow plants that will thrive in that soil, or you can amend the soil to expand the range of plants you can use. Getting a measurement is easy. Here's how.


  • Trowel or Shovel
  • Distilled Water
  • pH Test Kit


Dig a small hole in the soil. Use a trowel or spade to dig a hole 2-4 inches deep. Break up the soil within the hole and remove any twigs or foreign debris.

Fill the hole with water. Use distilled (not spring) water. You can find this in your local pharmacy. Rainwater is almost always slightly acidic! Bottled water may not have a neutral pH, either. Fill the hole until you have a muddy pool at the bottom.

Insert the test probe into the mud. Make sure your tester is clean and calibrated (for a more exact measurement). Wipe the probe with a tissue or clean cloth, and insert it into the mud.

Hold it there for 60 seconds and take a reading. pH is usually measured on a scale of 1-14, though the tester may not include this entire range.

  • A pH of 7 indicates neutral soil.
  • A pH above 7 indicates alkaline soil.
  • A pH below 7 indicates acidic soil.

Take several measurements in different areas in your food plot. A single reading may be an anomaly, so it's good to get an idea of the average pH in a plot. If they're all around the same, take the average and amend the soil accordingly. If one spot is very different than the rest, however, you may need to "spot treat" it.