A Quick, At-Home Test Of Your Soil Composition (Video)

For a quick idea of your soil composition and necessary amendments, try this easy, at-home test of your three basic soil elements.

Do you know the composition of your soil? This bit of information is actually one of the most important things you, as a farmer, can know about your property. From the pasture to the garden plot, your farm’s productivity is determined by soil quality.

Soil is made up of three basic elements:

  • sand
  • silt
  • clay

Understanding the percentage of each of these elements in your soil composition will determine how you will amend soil. The most common way to get this information? Send a soil test out.

But I’ve got an easy way you can determine your soil composition without the added time and expense of a third-party test.

Read more: A soil test can give you an accurate look at your soil composition. Here’s how to collect a sample for testing.

A Simple Test

You only need one supply to conduct this soil composition test: a glass jar.

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Pick a place where you can get a jarful of just soil (no top litter) and dig up enough for about 3 inches in the jar. Break up big clods as you do this.

Next, break down the soil in the jar as much as possible using whatever you have on hand. (A screwdriver end works great, in my experience.) Just break up all the clods as well as you can.

Then add as much water as you have soil in the jar. Secure the jar’s lid, then give your container a good shake for about four or five minutes.

Break It Down

So what are we doing when we shake up this muddy mixture? Well, we’re breaking down soil components to their basic particles.

As different plants prefer different percentages of the three basic soil elements—sand, silt and clay—understanding what our soil has versus what it needs more of can help us grow happy, healthy crops.

So how does this jar tell us about our farmland? Check out the video to see just what you can learn about your soil composition.

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