Gardeners know that plants are very picky about their soil. Soil pH, soil moisture and soil nutrients are all important factors determining the success of the plant. Electronic soil testers allow gardeners to easily test the soil for these various conditions, depending on the tester used. Some of these testers are all-in-one devices.
Some testers only test for one kind of soil condition. The pH tester is similar to a pH strip, but since it is electronic, it can be used multiple times, while the pH strips have to be continually used, according to Gardener's Secret. Also, the electronic soil tester is easier to read than a pH strip. Another kind of single-use tester is the fertility tester, which does not even test for a single kind of nutrient but instead tests for the overall richness of nutrients.
Electronic testers have a slider that allows the tester to select the test that will be performed. A test probe connected to the electronic tester is then inserted into the soil, according to Clean Air Gardening. The tester will provide a reading which will help the gardener know if anything needs to be added to the soil to maximize the soil plant suitability.
Some of the electronic testers also have a light tester. This is a light sensor that is placed near the same level as the plant's leaves, according to Clean Air Gardening. This device will allow the gardener to know if the plant needs to be moved to a different location where the plant will receive more or less light.
Soil testers should be used in the spring and the fall so that the gardener knows if any changes should be made to the soil, according to Gardener's Secret. Also, the soil should be tested before altering it using composting, mulching, tilling or some other gardening method so that the gardener can gauge if the changes have affected the soil appropriately.
Many soil testers come with a guide that informs the gardener on what conditions are right for a broad range of plants. This guide is intended for the convenience of the gardener so that she does not have to look up the soil requirements, according to Seed and Garden. Some testers also come with the different plant requirements built into the tester so that the tester can determinewhetherf the soil is suitable for the selected plant. Some of the more expensive soil testers are faster than some of the older testers.