Soil pH | What does it mean? | 6 questions answered
Soil pH is an important factor when it comes to crop health. This blog will explain the most frequently asked questions about Soil pH.
1. What is soil pH and why is it important?
With the pH value you measure the acidity of both the soil and water. It is important to know the pH level of the soil as every crop is different. Some crops need a more acidic soil and others do not. The acidity (pH) of the soil largely determines the availability of nutrient elements in the soil and their absorption by the crop. A pH value that does not suit the crop will lead to an inefficient absorbability of nutrients by the crop.
2. Can soil pH be too high?
Yes, the soil pH can be too high, but also too low. Every sort of crop has a optimal pH value. The pH value is expressed on a scale from 1 to 14. A pH value of 7 is considered neutral. A lower pH value means the soil is acidic, so the lower the pH, the higher the acidity of the soil. A pH value above 7 means that the soil is alkaline. The higher the pH value, the more alkaline soil. While some crops grow best in the 6.0 to 7.0 range, others grow well under slightly acidic conditions.
In general, pH values between 6 and 7.5 are optimum for crops and their nutrient uptake.
Download this PDF-file for the optimal soil pH level for all sorts of plants.
3. What happens when soil pH is too low or too high?
Is the pH value too low? Then you run the risk of magnesium deficiency and soil life may be inhibited. For the soil life to function properly, the pH must certainly be above 4.8. Is the pH value too high? Then you have a chance of a multitude of defects. Think of manganese, iron, boron, zinc or copper deficiency. These defects will result in a lower yield of your crop.
4. Does the pH value of the soil affects plant growth?
The answer is yes. If the pH value of the soil is too low, the uptake of important nutrients as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium decreases. This limits plant growth and root development. For example, a phosphorus-sensitive crop will suffer greatly from a low pH. If the pH value is too high, crops can have problems with the absorption of boron, copper and phosphates. This also negatively effects plant and fruit growth.
5. How soil pH is measured
For the best result a professional organisation should test the pH value of your soil, but you can also do this by yourself. This can be done with a pH meter or a pH soil test which are easily to order on the internet or purchase at an agricultural shop.
6. How do you control soil pH?
If the pH of your soil is too low, you can add lime to the soil*. If the pH of your soil is too high, you can add organic material. In both situations, a smart option is to apply an Organic Fertilizer. Organic Fertilizers have a positive effect on the soil quality and soil life, contain the necessary nutrients for the crop and influence the pH level to the specific need for a specific crop.
Organic Fertilizers increase the input of nutrients to the soil in a natural way. The form in which the nutrients are applied in a specific Organic Fertilizer, determines the overall effects on soil pH. The nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) have the most effect on pH as they are added in much larger quantities to Organic Fertilizers than other nutrients. This because they are the most important for the crop. Therefore, its important to take a close look at which Organic Fertilizer is most suitable for your soil and crops.
*Soil properties that need a higher pH level, response to lime vary by region. Knowledge of your soil and the crop is important in managing soil pH for the best crop performance.
Any questions about pH, your soil or crops? Feel welcome to contact us!