Ferry-Morse 990 Electric Soil Tester
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- Includes PH preferences on over 400 garden and landscape plants.
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|Manufacturer Part Number||990|
|Package Height||1.9 x 3.2 x 7.9 inches|
|Shipping Weight||0.45 pounds|
|USDA Hardiness Zone||5|
Top Customer Reviews
I first used it to test a control sample of soil from my area that should measure about 7.8 ph (this is a desert and the soil is alkaline). Additionally, the water here is likely alkaline but I have not measured it yet. I followed the instructions to test a sample with tap water (unfortunately I did not have distilled water available), and the meter instantly flung all the way positive, then slowly settled back to neutral (7) where it started at.
Next, I took 1 cup of water and added about a teaspoon of baking soda. I know this is not how the meter was designed to work, e.g., measuring water, so if it still measured neutral than I would still not count it as bad. Sure enough, it measured neutral.
My hope at this point was that the unit was mis-calibrated. So I took the sticker off from the front that is directly underneath the display and adjusted the lever so that the meter would read about 7.8 when testing my control soil sample. Next I measured a cup of vinegar (5% concentration) which measured about 2.5, so I figured that I was on to something. Maybe the meter just needed to be properly calibrated?
I proceeded to adjust the ph of soil for a potted plant. In concentrations of about 4 tablespoons per cup, I added about 12 ounces of vinegar in total, each time observing the ph drop a little. NOTE: I inserted the ph meter at an angle to read the top layer of soil that was soaked with the acidic solution.Read more ›
As an example, between initial attempted measurements, I would draw the probes thru my fingers to clean them, then wipe them off on my jeans, then use the wetted cleaning pad that came with the gauge. Upon scouring the instructions, among many ways that I tightened up my technique, I quit touching the probes with my fingers. As I was getting progressively more stupid results from the gauge, I think my hand oils were building up on the probes. I washed the probes in dish water. From then on, between measurements, I would 1st wipe the probes off with a soft, clean cotton cloth, then wipe them off with the wetted pad that came with it.
There were several "bench tests" that I did, where I had a rough idea of the way the gauge should respond ...the thing started giving me readings that made sense! My bench tests were not as far away from reality as sticking the probes in a can of orange juice!! give me a break!!Read more ›
Needle defaults at 7.0 pH (water) in off position.
Inserted brand-new alkaline battery.
1) Moved to bleach to measure 11.0 - 12.0 pH bleach solution (switch @ pH switch position):
No needle movement (7.0 pH).
2) Moved to water to measure 7.0 pH (switch @ pH switch position):
No needle movement (7.0 pH).
3) Moved to vinegar to measure 2.4 pH solution (switch @ pH switch position):
No needle movement (7.0 pH).
4) Kept probe in 2.4 pH vinegar solution (switch @ fertility position):
Needle measured 2.4 pH
Hypothesis: switch wired wrong
5) Moved probe to measure 11.0 - 12.0 pH bleach (switch @ fertility position)
Needle pegged high > 9.0 pH, then slowly pegged low < 1.0 pH, then crept back up to 3.0 pH and remained.
6) After switching probe back and forth between bleach and vinegar several times, a reliable pH RANGE was never achieved with the switch @ fertility position. The needle proved to simply sweep positively for bleach and negatively for vinegar.
7) Moved switch to pH and switched probe between vinegar and bleach several times. A reliable pH deviation from 7.0 was never achieved with the switch @ pH position. The needle proved to simply sweep back and forth wildly when changing solutions.
8) Moved switch to OFF and switched probe between vinegar and bleach several times for several minutes (longer than any capacitor should take to discharge). The needle proved to simply sweep back and forth wildly when changing solutions.
9) With the switch in the OFF position, accuracy does not seem to be impacted.
10) Next test... removing the battery. I think you all see where I'm going with this. I doubt I'll post the results.
Taking this garbage back to Lowes ASAP.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
No matter what solution I put it in it reads 7. Changed the battery just to be sure. Tried it in vinegar and still reads 7. An expensive mistake.Published on August 24, 2014 by Liz
Worked for about a month, then stopped measuring fertility. Can't really trust the pH measurement either, since ALL measurements are 7. Don't waste your money on this tester.Published on July 23, 2014 by lharbina
I receive the same result whether the unit is used in neutral, basic or acidic soils. Even one star is too much. It is not reliable and does not perform as advertised.Published on April 30, 2014 by BOB HANKEY
This was a cheap soil tester and was made the same way. The needle never moved no matter what position the switch was in. Read morePublished on March 31, 2014 by Buffalo Kid
it was a piece of crap would not move, stayed at same place no matter what soil type I had.Published on December 7, 2013 by Jim Rice Sr.
You don't need to be an analytical chemist to figure out right away that this thing doesn't work as advertised, but I actually am a Ph.D. chemist. Read morePublished on November 16, 2013 by Shawn Sapp
I've tested this device repeatedly using liquids of known pH, such as lemon juice, vinegar, lime juice, etc. They all read about 6.5 when should be around 2 or 3. Read morePublished on October 4, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Maybe some work and some do not but mine is stuck at 7 and has not moved i have seen other ppl having problems with these cheapo's as well.Published on August 12, 2013 by Amanda Stafford
I bought the Electronic Soil Tester and used it to test my soil pH as indicated by the instructions. Read morePublished on July 3, 2013 by Beth Rene' Roepnack