Tuesday, February 21, 2017

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Pike Agri-Lab Supplies, Inc

Testing Supplies and Resources for Sustainable Agriculture


How long does it take to ship your items?

We try to ship our products the next day where possible but we usually take no more than a week to get your products out to you.

 The exception of course is items that we have to specially order, and test kits for example that we assemble ourselves and only order the chemicals at the last minute due to them having a limited lifespan. This ensures that the lifespan of the chemicals aren't all used up sitting on our shelves.


Can we use the urine/saliva test to test the health of humans?

We would get into a lot of trouble if we answered yes to this question, both for practicing medicine without a license and also because you may not be fully aware of how dangerous some of the chemicals used in the test can be. We can however tell you that we do know people who do use the test on themselves, this is also what the late Dr Carey Reams developed the test for, but this is not something that we condone in any way. 

If you do decide to ignore our advice and administer the test on yourselves, we would like to strongly warn you that you should not carry the test out unless an experienced person has shown you how to do it safely, or you are well read in the subject, because it deals with hazardous materials that can be dangerous to humans. 



How can we purchase from the new Pike Agri-Lab Supplies website?

We have now implemented a shopping cart feature . You can now add items to the shopping cart, and then go through the checkout to pay for all your items using a credit or debit card.

Although we do use Paypal to proceses our credit cards. You do not need a paypal account, you can simply click the button at the bottom of the page for people who do not have or want a Paypal account.

Alternatively you can still ring us up on our toll free order line which is: 866-PIKEAGRI (745-3247) or 207-897-9267, and an operator will be there to take your order and payment over the phone, along with any questions you might have. We also accept checks.


How do you calibrate the instruments?

We have printed a few how-to guides on calibrating the various instruments. The ones we have published will be placed on our support page or along with the relevant products. We realize that some instruments are trickier than others so we will shortly be getting Bob Pike, our founder, to demonstrate how you go about calibrating and using various instruments. These videos will eventually be available to download for a small fee or we will sell a DVD video with all the tests being carried out on it.


When making compost is it best to keep the pile completely covered to allow effective composting?

Absolutely not. With traditional composting bins and other forms of composting, the biggest mistake composters make is to not allow enough air to get to the piles, this causes the process to become anaerobic instead of aerobic. When the composting process is allowed to turn anaerobic — oxygen deficient — the raw material putrefies instead of decomposing aerobically. Anaerobic putrefaction causes nitrogen losses, foul odors, insect problems — and can even produce growth-delaying substances.
Good compost must be monitored, managed, and tested for quality before use on agricultural lands. Only then can you be ensured of a nutrient-rich, water stable compost that will help you build up the humus levels in your soil. 

Please check the compost section of our product page. We sell a range of products that will help you achieve the maximum quality level of your compost.

What is Brix?

It is a way of measuring the quality of various foods and plants. It is measured using a Refractometer which is a simple optical instrument to measure dissolved solids content of plant sap, as well as the juice from fruits & vegetables. Refractometers measure % Sucrose by weight (Brix). Refractometers have been used extensively in the grape and citrus fruit industries, but are now being used by farmers & consumers everywhere.

A higher Brix reading means:
· Fruits or vegetables that taste sweeter
· Foods that are lower in water content & more minerally nutritious
· Crops that show greater resistance to insect damage
· Plants that have a significantly lower freezing point & greater resistance to frost damage
For a more complete explanation, please visit our friends at www.highbrixgardens.com/highbrix/highbrix.html 

What is plant analysis

Plant sap analysis is a very valuable form of testing a plants health. It is mostly concerned with measuring the mobile nutrients in the plant system or the free ions, and as a result is more sensitive and able to detect minor or temporary deficiencies than traditional leaf tissue analysis.

The benefits of a plant sap analysis are:
· It allows for better diagnosis and better decisions for correcting nutrient imbalances or deficiencies. 
· It allows us to monitor and make better selections of fertilizers and other products that will allow the plant to more efficiently utilize soil nutrients.
· It can help determine the effect environmental factors on nutrient levels. 
· Reduce effects of adverse weather on fruit by detecting temporary deficiencies. 
· Detect deficiencies before crop loss occurs. 
· Ensure nutrients levels are optimal for maximum growth and quality. 
· Plant sap testing is also extremely quick, and a sap sample can be manually extracted in minutes and tested
The sap represents the liquid that is between and within the cell walls. This liquid contains free ions in water as well as complex compounds such as sugars, proteins and enzymes. The standard university tissue test is completely different in that the leaves are partially dried then sent to a laboratory for further drying to obtain a dry weight sample. The plant matter must then be crushed to a powder and dissolved in acid solvent and analyzed by an expensive automated instrument that gives a dry weight measurement (dwm percentage) or trace element part per million (ppm). Not only is this very expensive, but typically the results do not indicate the percentage to which matter was dried and therefore the test can not be standardized nor a formula cannot be used to work out pre-drying results.
The three best methods known for determining if a plant is healthy is the Brix, pH and Electric Conductivity. We can use plant sap analysis to analyze these three methods.
The Brix level shows the total dissolved solids in the plant. The higher the dissolved solids the higher the mineral and the healthier the plant. If the Brix level is low then the Ions have not “complexed” into sugars or proteins. The ideal Brix level is above 12.
This will indicate the acidic level of the plant. A balanced level of nutrients in the leaf of the plant will show an ideal pH level of 6.2-6.4. 
A lower than ideal pH level will indicate a deficiency in the following minerals: Calcium, Potassium, Sodium or Magnesium.
A higher than ideal pH level will indicate a deficiency in the following minerals that act in the opposite direction: Phosphates, Nitrate Nitrogen, Sulfates and trace minerals.
Electric Conductivity
This can quickly determine the total concentration of Simple ions. A high plant energy field protects against invasive forces such as insects and plant pathogens. 

We can also use plant sap analysis to test important mineral content:

Nitrate ion NO3 concentrations:
NO3 concentrations must be at optimum levels during growth season and drop off later in the season.

Potassium K+ concentrations:
You must have a consistent level, neither too high nor too low to ensure fruit forms properly.
Calcium serum Ca++ concentrations:
Calcium must be maximized to obtain maximum Brix levels. Calcium ions can be measured with plant sap in laboratory conditions however it is more difficult than other nutrients.

We sell a range of products to aid in plant sap testing. We will also be publishing a new guide showing the method of plant sap testing very soon to help people not only to carry out the tests, but aid them in interpreting the results.

How do we obtain a catalog.


Simply contact us with your address and information and we will be happy to send one out to you. You can either use the form on our contact us page, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call us at: 866-PIKEAGRI (745-3247) or 207-897-9267 and an operator will be there to take your details.


How much is shipping


We usually ship via UPS ground. Other options are available, call for information.

For orders shipped within the continental U.S.

We have a Flat-Rate shipping and handling fee of $9.99. Quicker shipping options are available and can be chosen at checkout.


For orders outside the continental U.S.

Additional postage required for shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, & foreign countries. Any taxes or duties are the responsibility of the purchaser. We will contact the buyer to pay for this AFTER the order is placed. This is to ensure you are not overcharged.


Special Handling

Some items require special handling. We will contact the buyer to pay for this AFTER the order is placed. This is to ensure you are not overcharged.


Hazardous materials

Some chemicals are deemed hazardous and have the following restrictions:

They can only be shipped by UPS ground service &  may have an additional *Hazardous Material Fee *, We will contact the buyer AFTER the order is placed to pay for this. These cannot be shipped to areas outside the continental U.S.


What is your returns policy?


Pike Agri-Lab Supplies will accept merchandise returns & refund your money. Returns are subject to the following conditions:


  • should be made within 60 days of purchase
  • merchandise should be in original packaging and in re-salable condition 
  • a re-stocking fee of 15% will be deducted from the refunded amount
  • special orders, custom items, most chemicals, and books are not returnable

What do the Electrical Conductivity meters read in? How do I get the Reams ?C? Salt number?


The EC meters read out in either milli Siemens (mS/cm), which used to be referred to as milli mhos or in micro Siemens (µS/cm), formerly referred to as micro mhos. Some of the multi-range meters we carry will read out in both mS/cm and µS/cm. 1 milli Siemen is equal to 1,000 micro Siemens.

A much less frequently used unit of measurement is "C" Salt Units, as defined by Carey Reams. There are a couple of different ways to get a "C" Salt reading using a standard EC meter. The first is by using a diluted sample and then performing a calculation on the reading you get with that dilute sample. The second way to get "C" Salt units is to take the conductivity reading of an undiluted sample and then perform a different calculation on the reading. The calculation for this method is to first multiply the reading in mS/cm by 1000 to get µS/cm. Then the resulting number is divided by 700.

For example, if an undiluted sample gave you a reading of 14.0 mS/cm, this is the same as 14,000 µS/cm (14.0 x 1000). Dividing this number by 700 gives you a "C" Salt reading of 20. A short cut version for this second method would be to take the original reading of 14.0 and divide it by 0.7. Mathmatically, this will give you the same result.


Can I test water with a pH meter?


Standard pH meters and testers are not designed to test pure water, so the answer depends on what kind of water you want to test. If you are trying to test water that is very pure such as distilled water or reverse osmosis water, you will need a pH meter that has a specially designed probe in order to get accurate, repeatable results. (Pike Agri-Lab Supplies can get these specially designed meters for you, if you need one.) If, on the other hand, you need to test water that is not very pure, such as most tap water, well water, or water that has had substances added to it (such as the water from your fertilizer or foliar feed spray tank), most of the pH testers we sell will do nicely for you. You might want to look for meters that are waterproof or even one that is buoyant (if you drop it in the tank of water, it will float).

What is TDS and how does it compare to EC?

Some of the Electrical Conductivity meters we carry read out in two different units of measurement: EC (µS and mS) and TDS (ppm and ppt). The TDS is a variable unit of measurement and for this reason, we do not like to use it. The meters can be set to a wide range of conversion factors for TDS (anywhere from 0.45 to 1.0). In other words, the meter multiplies the EC reading in mS by 0.45 (or by 0.75, etc., depending on what setting you have used for the conversion factor) and then displays it as ppt. The default setting for the Dist6, for example, is 0.50.  Therefore, the reading in ppt will always be one half of the reading in mS (unless you change the setting in the meter). Because various meters use different conversion factors depending on which salt they use as a reference, you can have a lot of confusion with the TDS readings. For this reason, we advise people to always use EC because mS and?µS are universal.

What is the Brix reading? Why would I care about the sugar level?

Refractometers measure the refraction of light (or the amount that light rays are bent) as it travels through a liquid. It is not a sugar reading unless the substance you are testing is a solution of sugar (sucrose) in water. In fact, you can actually get brix readings for substances that have no sugar in them at all.

 There are four factors that affect the reading of refractometers:

  • The quantity of atoms dissolved in the liquid
  • The atomic weight of the elements involved
  • The number of covalent bonds in the combinations of the atoms, (such as found in sugars and amino acids)
  •  The temperature (this can be eliminated as a factor by choosing a model that is automatically temperature compensating)

 For reference, pure water has a reading of 0 brix since, by definition, there should be no substances dissolved in the water. If you were to compare two solutions made of the same compound, and the first solution had more of that compound dissolved in it than the second solution, it would have a higher reading. If for example, the first solution had 10% sucrose dissolved in it and the second had 5%, the readings would be 10.0 brix and 5.0 brix, respectively. If you wanted to compare two solutions containing an equal amount of two different substances, for example a solution of table salt compared to a solution of sugar, the sugar solution would have a higher brix reading, due primarily to the fact that it is comprised of molecules with covalent bonds (shared electrons) as opposed to the simple ionic bonds found in salt.

It can get very scientific, but to simplify how this relates to plants: if your plants have watery cells, they will have lower brix readings and not be as healthy as higher brix plants. If simple ions (such as the nitrate ion) are taken up into the plant cells instead of substances being brought into the cells and then combined into more complex substances such as sugar (by the process known as photosynthesis), the plants will have lower brix readings and will be vulnerable to diseases and insects.

How do I decide which refractometer to choose?


We have created a chart to help you decide what refractometer best meets your needs. Click Here to view the chart.


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