FLORIDA – You probably know the advantages of testing the soil in your yard or garden but may not have had easy access to a test kit. This is no longer an issue, thanks to the UF/IFAS Extension.
Florida homeowners, landscapers, and municipalities now have an easy-to-use, research-based tool to improve growing conditions for lawns and landscapes: the UF/IFAS-branded Soil Test Kit Powered by SoilKit®.
The new soil test kit is the result of a University of Florida partnership with AgriTech Corporation. According to UF/IFAS, the kit puts UF/IFAS turfgrass science and tailored nutrient recommendations in the hands of users. Each kit includes a prepaid shipping label, soil bag, QR code to a collection instruction video, and a customer care card.
There are two ways to acquire a kit, with either option costing users $29.95 as an introductory special. The kit is ordinarily $31.95.
Each UF/IFAS Extension office will be stocked with a limited quantity of kits at no upfront cost; users pay upon registering their kit. It is suggested that residents contact their local office to inquire about the current stock levels.
SoilKit.com/Florida will sell the kits online, and users pay no additional fees to send their samples.
“The results users receive are not just tailored to their exact landscape, but it also takes into account their broader location, so that information like local fertilizer ban periods are accounted for,” said Bryan Unruh, UF/IFAS turfgrass scientist and Extension specialist.
“We want Florida’s lawns and landscapes to thrive in a way that also protects our waterways and environment.”
In addition to the soil test kits available at local UF/IFAS Extension offices and the SoilKit website, the kits will soon be available at additional retailers. Using the kit is simple and helped by the instructional video at turf.ifas.ufl.edu/soilkit, the UF/IFAS Extension said.
Users first register their kits at SoilKit.com, which helps target location-based requirements in addition to allowing the user to provide the needed contact information for receiving the results. The next step is to collect the soil sample in the provided bag before sending it to the testing laboratory for analysis. After the lab receives the sample, results are returned via email within one to two business days.
“It is important that AgriTech partner with Florida scientists who specialize in the unique growing conditions of Florida,” said Christina Woerner McInnis, CEO of AgriTech Corp.
“UF/IFAS Extension already reaches every corner of the state, and now we’re able to bring SoilKit and appropriate plant nutrition to the people who want to best care for their lawns and landscapes.”
Unruh, who is also associate director of the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center, sees another advantage to widespread participation in the new program: research.
“As we collect results for individual yards across the state, we are building a dataset of the soil conditions,” he said, adding that user information will not be identifiable in the larger collection.
“Users will receive UF/IFAS turfgrass science-backed information as we know it now, but as we go forward, artificial intelligence can help us target and improve recommendations based on factors like soil composition, age of landscape, and climate.”
Portions of the kit’s proceeds are allocated to the UF/IFAS Turfgrass Science Program and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program to support graduate student education and in-service training of county Extension agents and program assistants.