Schloesser’s super fun soil test


Tate Schloesser

The four various vials to test soil

Throughout my 12 years in public school, there are very few fine details that I can remember. Of course I know how to read and write, do basic math, and understand the scientific method, but if you go much deeper than that, I don’t remember a whole lot. Some of the things I do remember now however, I’ll probably never forget. For instance, I remember that here, there and not are adverbs\; that Samuel Gompers is Mr. Dougherty’s favorite historical name\; that the Great Gatsby was a good book, and the Scarlet Letter was not\; and of course, the subject of this article, how to perform a soil test.
Learning how to do a soil test is by far the most useful and engaging activity I have learned in all my time in public schools. It has taught me the most important nutrients that plants need to survive, and has shown me that all the time playing in the dirt as a child has finally come in handy. The reason soil tests are valuable is because they provide a lifelong skill. For example, if you were stuck on a tropical island with no food, but you had a soil test, seeds, soil, adequate sun and fresh water you would be able to survive because you could test the soil, make it better with various tropical island ingredients, grow high quality food, and survive. You couldn’t survive with the knowledge of the quadratic formula or something. It’s truly perfect logic and reasoning, am I wrong?
Now that I have convinced you that soil tests are extremely useful and very important to the common individual, I will explain how I used mine (and no, it wasn’t on a remote tropical island).
To start off, I purchased a test on for about $9. This was a worthy investment to say the least. After about a week in the mail it arrived, and I was bursting with joy! I barbarically ripped open the package, and sprinted straight to my garden in the backyard. After the initial razzmatazz surrounding my new science experiment, I remembered that safety is a priority. So I grabbed my lab coat and “Dexter’s Laboratory” safety goggles to make sure I was safe. This was serious business.
After all the precautionary steps were taken, I got to work. First I opened up the chartreuse green testing vial, which was about three inches tall and half an inch wide, then added dirt to the left most column. Following the implementation of the dirt, I added powder that was stored in an equally colored capsule found in the initial box. Once the powder and dirt were mixed together it became evident that the addition of water would complete the perfect trifecta of the soil test. While waiting around for the solution to turn color, which would give me the pH of my soil, I moved on to the next vial.
To test the nitrogen levels of the soil I followed the same exact steps as above, but only this time the capsule and vial were an amethyst color. Then came the phosphorus test, which was the same steps as the nitrogen and pH test, but this time the vial and capsule were Egyptian blue (or maybe it was Persian blue, it was hard to tell). Finally came the potash test, which, again, followed the same steps that were initially laid out, but this time the vial and capsule sported a tangerine colorway.
After about five minutes of waiting, all the solutions changed colors, which showed me the results of my soil. They are as follows: pH was at a neutral level of seven, nitrogen levels were sufficient, as was phosphorus and potash levels. The truly perfect blend of nutrients! I had perfect soil! But fortunately for someone, probably like yourself, the testing kit comes with a guide which tells you what to add if your soil is not as perfect as mine. The guide also explains the best crops to grow in the climate you are in, and which plants need more of one nutrient than another.
Overall I am glad that I was able to put the knowledge I gained in public schooling to use in my regular life, and soil tests are by far the most important thing I learned how to do in my 12 years of education in the Fargo Public School District.