Managing soil pH is an essential aspect of every gardener. Different garden soils have different soil pH.
Similarly, different plants and crops perform best at varying levels of soil pH.
Thus, understanding how to increase or lower the soil pH is essential for maximum productivity.
On a pH scale of 0-14, the pH of 0 is very acidic while the pH of 14 is totally alkaline and the pH of 7 is neutral.
The acidity level increases the closer you get to 0, while the alkalinity level increases the closer you are to 14.
Soil contains the overall aspects of plant growth. The right soil condition for maximum output includes nutrients, proper aeration, and the right pH levels.
Most plants are sensitive to pH, and proper adjustment is necessary for effective growth.
Do you wish to lower the alkalinity levels or increase the acidity levels of the soil? There are numerous tips available to pH up or pH down.
How to pH up and down in soil?
First, you have to test the soil pH. If you want to increase its pH level, add a base into the soil using baking soda, ash, or lime. To decrease the soil’s pH level, add manure. You can also use aluminum sulfate or sulfur to lower soil pH levels.
Steps in Raising or Lowering Soil pH Levels
Before deciding on how to raise or lower the pH, there is a need to understand first the pH levels of the soil.
If you discover that the soil is very acidic for the crops you want to plant, you can increase the pH level by injecting a base into the soil.
The most commonly used base for raising soil pH includes limestone, ash, or baking soda that can also be added to the soil.
However, if the pH level of the soil is too high and needs to be down to equilibrium or near equilibrium, manure can help achieve the desired pH levels.
Alternatively, you can incorporate sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
The first step before managing your soil pH is always to examine it. Though it is possible to see the effect of soil ph on the crops, it is always best to test to be certain.
It could be detrimental to your crops if you decided to lower the pH while the soil is already acidic instead of increasing it based on unhealthy changes exhibited by the crops.
Soil evaluation also involves determining the type of soil. If you are not sure about the type of soil in your garden, it is essential to conduct an assessment.
This process will help determine other soil properties like the soil drainage, dryness properties and whether it is clumpy or loose.
For the experienced gardener, it is easy to tell the soil type through simple touching and to see.
However, if you are new to farming, it is always best to conduct a test.
Test soil and water pH
In this step, you will check the soil PH and the water PH since they both affect the crops.
While pH test strips and electronic meters can give conclusive results, it is essential to seek the expertise of a professional.
When it comes to testing water pH, it becomes easy to need the strip and PH meter.
Generally, tap water is always alkaline and hence increases the soil alkalinity. However, if the soil contains rainwater, it will be more acidic after testing.
Thus, if you are in a state that receives a lot of rainfall and wants to achieve the alkalinity of the water in the soil, consider using compounds that raise the soil pH.
Determine the plants or crops you want to grow
Now that you are aware of the soil pH, what do you want to plant, among other properties? The type of crop will determine the soil pH.
In the United States, the soil pH ranges between 3.5 and 10. In high rainfall states, the PH is about 5 and 7, while in drier states, it is about 6.5 to 9.
If you want to plant some strawberries in any of these states, you will be required to lower the soil PH as they do well in acidic soils.
However, most other fruits and vegetables do well in slightly acidic soils.
How to pH up or raise pH
After testing, if you discover your soil has high acidity levels, it is advisable to grow crops like strawberries.
However, if you are considering growing vegetables, consider increasing the pH level to about equilibrium.
How do you increase the pH levels of the soil? Add base elements or compounds to the soil.
The type of base you choose depends on the acidity levels and how fast the effect is realized. Most of these base compounds contain limestone in powder form.
The compounds can be found at any agricultural selling store.
Limestone comes in a different form, including pellets, granules, pulverized, and hydrated forms.
The choice will heavily depend on the moisture levels of the soil, the soil type, and how fast you need to effect change.
The lime pellets and granules are convenient to apply but take longer to raise the pH levels effectively.
On the other hand, pulverized lime is easily absorbed into the soil but regularly clogs the applicator.
Thus, hydrated lime is the best option for easy application and effectiveness in raising the soil pH.
Would you prefer a natural and more cost-friendly method of raising the soil pH? Consider using wood ash or baking soda.
While these two still yield the desired result, they take a lot of time to raise the pH levels effectively.
Additionally, go for potassium, calcium, among other micronutrients, in the soil. However, be careful not to be in contact with the roots as it can damage them.
How to pH down or lower pH
Since most crops thrive under slightly acidic soil, you will be required to lower the pH.
If you plan to practice organic farming, the best way to lower the pH is to use natural materials.
While they take time, the most common natural compounds include manure, pine needles and composite.
Alternatively, you can use sulfur or aluminum sulfate.
Aluminum sulfate has been recognized as the most effective way of acidifying the soil due to the chemical reaction of aluminum.
Frequently Asked Questions About How To pH Up And Down In Soil
What is the fastest way of raising soil pH?
The use of limestone can raise the pH of highly acidic soil. Hydrated lime is more effective as it is absorbed into the soil immediately.
Does a rise in alkalinity raise pH?
An increase in the alkalinity of the soil or water subsequently increases the pH.
Increasing and lowering the pH level of the soil is determined by several factors.
How much you can increase or lower the pH depends on the current pH levels of the soil and the crop you want to grow.
By following these soil pH management tips, you will achieve the desired soil pH levels for your crops.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.