pH Soil Testing: Finding the Perfect pH Level
Every type of soil has a different pH level. In Chemistry, pH stands for potential of hydrogen, but all you really need to know is that the pH scale indicates whether a substance is acid, alkaline, or neutral.
When planning to grow plants in a particular soil it is important to know the pH of the soil before you start. This is because plant species have a preferred pH level and so the pH level of your soil will dictate what you can and cannot grow. Therefore, it is important to carry out pH soil testing before planting.
PH soil testing Levels
DoingpH soil testing will tell you the exact pH level of your soil on a range of one to 14. The first half of the scale, from zero to six, is acid, seven is neutral, and anything between eight and 14 is alkaline.
Typically, plants are able to grow well within a small range on either side of their optimum pH level. Many plants prefer a pH of around 6 to 7, but there are species that fall outside of that narrow range.
Knowing exactly where your soil stands on the pH range is an important first step in the preparation of a new garden or growing operation.
pH Soil Testing With a Test Kit
It is easy to carry out pH soil testing with a specially made test kit that uses colour-coded litmus paper.
Step 1: To carry out a soil pH test first collect a sample of soil from your growing area.
Step 2: Place the sample in a jar and then add distilled water to create a liquid solution.
Step 3: Dip the litmus paper test stick into the soil and water mix for about 20 seconds.
Step 4: Remove the test paper and quickly clean it with water and then compare its colour to the chart provided in the kit. The colour will indicate the pH level of the soil.
If you are growing with hydroponics, where your growing medium is water rather than soil, it is possible to buy a pH meter for water.
How to Adjust Soil pH
Once you have completed the pH soil testing procedure, you may find that your soil is either too acid or too alkaline to grow the plants you want. If this is the case, it’s possible to use soil amendments to alter the pH level of your soil in preparation for planting.
It requires large amounts of soil amendments to alter soil pH. Inorganic amendments have the potential to change soil pH rapidly, but if you prefer to use organic methods expect the adjustment to take some time.
To increase the acidity of soil an inorganic option is sulphur. Organic materials that increase soil acidity are peat moss and leaves or needles from acidic plants and trees.
To raise the pH level, making it more alkaline, the most commonly used material is lime. As a soil amendment, lime is available in several forms including pellets and powders. It is easy to apply and will rapidly increase the alkalinity of your soil.
Getting the Perfect Soil pH with BAC
Here at BAC, we produce high-quality, easy-to-use lime that is ideal for altering the pH level of your soil. Our lime also includes magnesium, an essential micronutrient for plants.