Extension agronomists are often asked by farmers to determine why crop plants are stunted or have abnormally colored leaves. Soil acidity and alkalinity are common fertility problems that can cause these symptoms. In a study to measure the accuracy of in-field pH test kits, hand-held pH meters and pH color indicator kits provided fast and reliable results. Soil pH probes gave poor measurements of soil acidity and should not be used by Extension agents. Results by untrained personnel with hand-held pH meters varied by individual. Agents using pH test kits should read instructions carefully before using these instruments.
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Stevens, G., Dunn, D., & Phipps, B. (2001). How to Diagnose Soil Acidity and Alkalinity Problems in Crops: A Comparison of Soil pH Test Kits. The Journal of Extension, 39(4), Article 23. https://tigerprints.clemson.edu/joe/vol39/iss4/23