Lusterleaf Rapitest 1835 is a 3-way digital soil analyzer (pH, fertilization, soil temp.)
The digital 3-way soil analyzer provides gardeners with the ability to quickly and easily test soil pH, temperature and fertility. The 3-way analyzer is a convenient, no hassle method for testing soil. It provides information gardeners need for optimal plant growth. Take the guesswork out of gardening! The 3-way analyzer combines the most important functions necessary for testing soil. The pH function reads the soil acidity/alkalinity’. The temperature function allows the gardener to find out when the soil is the proper temperature for planting. The fertility function reads the combined levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash to determine the nutrient health of the soil.
Important information regarding your new digital analyzer
These instructions cover all aspects related to the analyzer’s function and will help guide you to experiencing the proper temperature , pH and fertility range for the plants you intend to grow.
Measuring directly in the soil usually gives a good result. However; for the best results, it is recommended that you follow the directions below.
-Only for use in the soil, never use in liquids!
-Only measure when the soil is really wet. Preferably 30 minutes after watering or after a heavy rain shower.
-Always press the soil around the probe firmly against the probe with your fingers.
-Make sure you always measure in free soil without roots and other (organic) obstacles.
-With each measurement, first rub the measuring pen including the tip thoroughly with a scouring pad (included in the package) and clean with a dry cloth.
-Wait 1 minute for each measurement before reading the result.
Before testing the soil
If you are preparing to plant a bed of plants or shrubs, or to plant a crop of fruits and vegetables, or to put out grass seed, you will find it beneficial to sample and test the soil in a number of locations in the area to confirm that the soil is warm enough for what you want to plant, that the soil’s pH is generally consistent over the entire area and that it is within the plant’s pH range.
Basic operating instructions
Step 1. Press the power button to turn the meter on and off.
Step 2. Press the arrow key to change the test function.
Step 3. The test function in use is indicated by the blinking arrow on the meter face.
Step 4. When not in active use, the meter will itself off after about 4 minutes to preserve battery life.
How to use your meter to measure pH
Step 1. Remove the top 5 cm of the surface soil. Break up any soil clumps to a depth of 12 cm. Remove stones or organic debris such as leaves and twigs because they can affect the final result.
Step 2. Thoroughly wet the broken up soil with water (ideally distilled or de-ionized water) to a mud consistency.
Step 3. Tamp the wet soil to compact thoroughly.
Step 4. Using the supplied pad lightly shine 10-12 cm of the probe, carefully avoiding the bullet shaped tip, to remove any oxides that may have formed on the surface of the metal. Wipe the probe clean using a cotton ball or tissue. Always wipe away from the probe tip, toward the probe handle.
Step 5. Use the arrow buttons to move the indicator arrow to point to pH.
Step 6. Take the initial reading: push the probe directly into the moistened soil to a depth of 10 – 12 cm. If it does not slip into the soil fairly easily, select a new position. Never force the probe ! Twist the probe clockwise and anti-clockwise between your fingers several times to ensure that muddy soil is well distributed over the surface of the probe. Wait for 60 seconds for the prove to acclimatize and note the LCD reading. Remove the probe from the soil.
Step 7. DO NOT SKIP THIS LAST STEP !
Based on the results of the initial reading, take the final reading:
A. If the initial reading is pH 7 or higher, wipe any soil particles from the surface of the probe. Re-shine the probe and insert back into the soil at a different point, avoiding the first hole made by the probe. Twist the probe 2 or 3 times between the fingers, as before, and wait 30 seconds before taking the final reading.
B. If the initial reading is below pH 7, wipe any soil particles from the surface of the probe. Do not re-shine the probe. Insert the probe back into the soil at a different point avoiding the first hole made by the probe. Twist the probe 2 or 3 times between the fingers, as before, and wait 60 seconds before taking the final reading.
In order to obtain an even more accurate result when measuring soil pH with your unit, take the sample of soil to be tested from the ground. Prepare the sample by breaking the soil into small particles, removing stones and organic debris. Measure 2 cups of soil from the prepared sample. Fill a clean glass or plastic container with 2 cups of distilled or de-ionized water and add the measured soil sample. Ensure the soil and water are thoroughly mixed and compact the sample firmly. Drain off any excess water. Proceed to step 4 above.
Adding Lime to increase pH
Lime can be added at any time of year but it does need time to take effect; which is why the autumn, winter and early spring are the preferred times. The two main types of lime are ground limestone and hydrated lime. Ground limestone is slower acting but more pleasant to handle. Hydrated lime may take effect in 2 or 3 months but ground chalk or limestone may take up to 6 months. Do not expect pH correction to be too precise! Avoid adding lime at the same time as sulfate of ammonia, superphosphate, basic slag or animal manures. Lime may be used in combination with sulfate of potash or muriate of potash. It is because of the natural drop in pH that there is such an emphasis on adding lime. While lime stimulates the availability of most plant foods, soils should not automatically be limed because large amounts of plant food become increasingly “locked up” over pH 7.
Benefits of liming
• Reduces acidity, increases pH.
• Binds the fine particles of clay into larger particles and so helps aerate and drain the soil.
• Helps to retain moisture and plant foods in sandy soils.
• Balances the addition of acidic fertilizers.
• The lime content od soil will sometimes affect flower and foliage color. Blue & red hydrangea flowers are the most common examples.
• Supplies the plant food calcium.
• Makes nitrogen available by stimulating the micro-organisms that help decompose organic matter.
• Increases the earthworm population.
• Protects against a few diseases, such as club root in brassicas (but causes scab in potatoes) and is disliked by organisms that help decompose organic matter.
Adding chemicals and organics to reduce pH
The best way to reduce pH is to use the compost heap and farmyard manure to regularly introduce decaying humus. This not only reduces pH gradually but helps hold plant foods and moisture. Peat, relatively inert and usually only about 4% nitrogen content, is another useful soil conditioner of an acid nature.
Sulfate of ammonia and flowers of sulfur are chemical treatments that help reduce soil pH. Sulfate of ammonia also adds nitrogen. While the tiny bacteria and micro-organisms work unseen in the soil, breaking down fresh organic matter into plant food, they produce acids. If this process eventually creates too low a pH, the organisms will work less efficiently. Lime is then needed as a balance and stimulant. It is sensible to progress gradually towards a reduced pH and certainly not to expect to be able to be precise in exactly how much of a material will reduce pH by a given amount.
Avoid adding animal manures or sulfate of ammonia at the same time as lime or basic slag (a phosphate food).
How much to apply
How much to apply depends on the particle size of your soil. A sandy soil needs less lime for an equivalent pH change than a heavy clay but will not hold its pH as long.
Sandy soils: A light, coarse soil comprised of crumbling and alluvial debris.
Loam soils: A medium friable soil, consisting of a blend of coarse (sand) alluvium and fine (clay) particles mixed within fairly broad limits with a little lime and humus.
Clay soils: A heavy, clinging, impermeable soil, comprised of very fine particles with little lime and humus and tending to be waterlogged in winter and very dry in summer.
A fertile soil is one which produces satisfactory yields of crops and, because of the incorporation of plant and animal residues, contains an abundance of organic matter or humus. It has good texture, not too loose and light nor too heavy and stiff, is well drained and has a proper pH for best plant growth. A fertile soil sufficient amounts of the three major elements, Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (potash). It also contains a sufficient supply of the micronutrients such as boron, copper, iron, sulfur, magnesium and molybdenum and consists of an abundance of organic matter and humus. The fertility portion of the instrument measures the soil’s Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potash (NPK) content, in combination.
How to use your meter to measure fertility
Step 1. Remove the top 5 cm of the surface soil. Break up any soil clumps to a depth of 12 cm. Remove any stones or organic debris such as leaves and twigs because they can affect the final result.
Step 2. Thoroughly wet the broken up soil with water (ideally distilled or de-ionized water) to a mud consistency.
Step 3. Use the arrow buttons to move the indicator arrow to point to Fertility.
Step 4. Wipe the meter probe clean with a tissue or paper towel. Insert probe into soil up to the probe base.
Step 5. Wait one minute and take reading.
If the tester reads 0 – 2 (= Too Little)
• Liquid feed with a brand of soluble fertilizer that is recommended for the plants you intend to grow.
• Liquid feed within 3 weeks after planting or potting and do this every month whenever you water your plants.
If the tester reads 3 – 7 (= Ideal)
• Water once a month with a soluble fertilizer that is recommended for the plants you are growing.
If the tester reads 8 – 9 (= Too Much)
• Water thoroughly to leach out the excess fertilizer from the soil.
• For potted plants, repot with new soil.
• For greenhouse plants water thoroughly to leach excess fertilizer from the soil.
• Do not add any fertilizer. You can add manure, compost, clippings, plant wastes, leaves and any other organic matter to the soil.
Testing for plants potted in soil or potting soil
Only test at the beginning of, or during, the growing season, never in the dormant period. Do not test the soil for a plant that has been recently repotted as the plant will be in a delicate state and not yet reestablished. For established plants a pH reading should be taken just after watering. First, water each plant (without adding plant food). Rainwater should always be used for houseplants as calcium present in domestic water systems can adversely affect acid loving plants. Leave the pot to drain to ensure the soil is thoroughly moistened. Proceed to step 4 of “How to use your meter to measure pH”. If you are testing the soil in a planter and the reading is not reflecting the plant’s desired pH range, you should repot the plant. Do not try to add a balancing agent to the top of the soil in an attempt to alter the soil’s pH. Note: if you have a healthy, thriving plant (despite a reading that does not conform the plant) do not disturb the plant as it may have acclimatized itself.
• Do not leave probe in soil longer than necessary.
• Always clean the probe immediately after using.
• Be sure to keep the probe away from metal objects.
• The tester is intended for measuring soils. DO NOT PLACE THE PROBE INTO ANY OTHER SOLUTION, INCLUDING WATER !
• Altering the pH takes time. Do not expect instant changes, but work steadily towards the ideal range. Most plants have a “range” of pH. Search on the internet the ideal pH range of your plants or have a look at the pH-preference list at our website.
• Adding lime before planting is most beneficial because it takes time to take effect. Liming in the fall, winter or early spring is preferred.
• Avoid adding lime at the same time as fertilizers whether they are organic or chemical.
• Use lime sparingly. It encourages weeds and worms. Worms then attract moles.
• Save clippings, vegetable & fruit wastes for compost.
• Bone meal is an excellent fertilizer to be used at the time of planting.