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Comparison of Soil pH meters: Store-bought, Portable Scientific Meters, and University Soil Analytical Lab pH meter

Extension Education

Grantly Ricketts
County Extension Director and Commercial Horticulture Agent
Fort Pierce


Situation: Annually, many homeowners visit UF/IFAS Extension St. Lucie County plant clinics seeking solutions for unhealthy plants. Extension Agents commonly advise homeowners to send soil samples to the University of Florida Extension Soil Testing Laboratory (ESTL) for pH analysis. Many clients have informed Agents that they intend to utilize a pH meter they purchased from a local store. laboratory. The purpose of this experiment was to determine whether the pH meter in ESTL and store-bought pH meters produced significantly different results.


A four-question survey was given to  115 St. Lucie County residents. Survey questions included - have you measured your soil pH, and if so, how; have you ever used a store-bought soil pH meter, and do you feel that these types of pH meters are accurate? 64% (N=74) of respondents stated that they believe store-bought pH meters are accurate, while 32% (N=37) stated store-bought pH meters may or may not be accurate, 4% (N=4) stated that store-bought pH meters are not accurate. To test the accuracy of store-bought pH meters, we decided to submit a soil sample to the UF lab and use three different pH meters purchased from a store. For pH testing, soil samples were collected from three different sites. The results of three commercial pH meters were compared with those of two portable scientific pH meters and the ESTL pH readings.


Results from the portable scientific pH meters and the ESTL were very similar. The results for the store-bought pH meters were significantly different from that of portable scientific pH meters and ESTL pH results.


Store-bought soil pH meters produce a wide range of readings. Since store-bought pH meters are inaccurate, they should not be used in place of scientific pH meters, or the pH meter used in the university's soil testing laboratory. This could lead to confusion for homeowners attempting to diagnose landscape issues.


Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted only for display at AM/PIC. Poster is not to be judged, but the abstract will be published in the proceedings.

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Authors: Grantly Ricketts, kate Rotindo, AMIR REZAZADEH
  1. Ricketts, G. County Extension Director and Commercial Horticulture Agent, University of Florida /IFAS Extension, Florida, 34945
  2. Rotindo, K. Urban Horticulture Agent, University of Florida /IFAS Extension, Florida, 34945
  3. REZAZADEH, A. Fruit sand Alternative Crops Agent, University of Florida /IFAS Extension, Florida, 34945