Why farmers sometimes need to change the pH of soil
A healthy, productive farm is created from the ground up. The fertility, structure and biological activity of your soil are the keys to raising successful crops. Great soil grows great plants with increased vigour and pest tolerance, not to mention maximized yields. There’s a lot to know about your soil for sure, but the most critical measurement is its pH.
What is pH?
Represented on a scale of 0 to 14, pH is the measurement of the acidity of something—in this case, your soil. In a nutshell, the pH is the comparative measure of hydrogen and hydroxide ions present.
At neutral pH 7, there are equal numbers of hydrogen and hydroxide ions. A soil pH measurement below 7 is considered acidic and contains more hydrogen ions. Soil pH above 7 is alkaline and contains more negatively charged hydroxide ions.
The soil pH is an important number to know because it determines the availability of almost all essential plant nutrients. If the soil pH is not on track, plants will not have access to nutrients necessary for growth and, therefore, won’t perform at their best. Nutrients can get trapped in the soil and will not be released for plant use.
Amending Soil pH
When soil becomes too acidic, certain nutrients become less available (phosphorus in particular), good soil bacteria become less active and some elements (like aluminium and manganese) can become toxic. Soils that have a very high alkaline pH, also have nutrient availability issues.
Regular soil testing is the only sure-fire way to know your soil’s current pH level. Most soil-test results will also tell you how to raise or lower the soil’s pH to reach the desired level.
When adjusting your soil’s pH, add only the recommended amount of any product as indicated by a soil test to make an effective pH change without going too much in the opposite direction. On the pH scale, a single-digit change (say from 5 to 6) translates as a...
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