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Different crops do well at different pH levels. Therefore, as a farmer, you need to know what lowers soil pH and what raises it to attain the optimum conditions for your plants. pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity, with a scale of 1 to 14, where 1 is most acidic, and 14 is most alkaline.
Before you can alter the pH of the soil, it is vital to test it first. There are several kits in the market that will enable you to measure the soil’s pH and other factors that determine soil fertility.
I am sure you might have questions such as; are home soil test kits accurate? Don’t worry; modern test kits offer accuracy levels similar to lab tests.
On top of testing, some test kits also provide recommendations on how you could improve your garden or farm- for instance, how to make your vegetable garden grow faster. Some of the best home soil test kits will be reviewed in this article.
Importance of Soil pH
To be a good farmer who knows how to make soil more fertile, you must also understand what lowers soil pH or what raises it to meet optimum plants’ prosperity requirements. Therefore, the objectives of soil testing are to find out if your soil is in an optimum condition for your crops, and if not, what you can do to correct that.
Most horticultural plants do well in soil that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. Essentially, that is a pH level of between 6.5 and 7.5. In highly acidic soil, plant-toxic minerals such as aluminum and manganese become concentrated whereas, in highly alkaline soil, plant nutrients such as phosphorous and manganese become deficient.
Thus, you should do a comprehensive study of your soil type if you want to know what lowers soil pH or what raises it.
What lowers soil pH
Lowering the pH of the soil is basically knowing how to make soil more acidic. Methods to achieve this include the use of chemicals such as sulfur, aluminum sulfate, and ferrous sulfate, and organic material such as sphagnum peat and organic mulches.
Sulfur is the safest, most inexpensive, and most common method to lower the pH of soil. However, it is also one of the slowest as it takes a standard time of a year for results to be seen. The upside is that the effect lasts for long; thus, your soil will remain acidic for years.
Sulfur lowers the pH of soil by using bacteria in the ground as catalysts to turn it into sulfuric acid. 2 pounds of sulfur for 100 square feet (which is the recommended amount), lowers the pH from 7 to 4.5.
2. Aluminum Sulfate and Ferrous Sulfate
If you don’t have one year to wait, you might want to know what lowers soil pH faster. There are two ideal products for this- aluminum sulfate and ferrous sulfate. Aluminum sulfate and ferrous sulfate react with the soil faster.
On application, effects can be seen in approximately three weeks. Aluminum sulfate is also known as the “bluing agent” because when applied, flowers develop a blueish pigment. These chemicals should be applied at a rate of five to six times higher than the rate sulfur is applied for optimum results.
Still, care should be taken not to use more than the recommended amount, which is 5 pounds per 100 square feet. Excess Aluminum sulfate and ferrous sulfate are toxic to plants.
3. Organic Matter
When the topic of how to lower soil pH pops up most people don’t automatically think of organic matter. There are different organic ways of reducing soil pH- for instance use of sphagnum peat and mulching. The use of sphagnum peat is an excellent organic way to lower the pH of your garden. Generally, sphagnum peat has a pH of between 3.0 and 4.5. Besides reducing the pH of the soil, it adds organic matter to it
Sphagnum peat is applied by adding a layer of one to two inches and working it all the way to the top eight to twelve inches of soil. Sphagnum peat is used on small gardens and beds because using it on big areas would be too costly.
In addition to lowering pH, these organic mulches are best known for preventing erosion, reducing the rate of evaporation in the soil, and preventing the growth of weeds. Mulches are plant materials, and they include wood chips, barks, and even newspapers.
When used in the right way, mulches can be used to lower the pH of soil. According to researchers, wood chips are ideal for lowering pH and allowing better absorption of nutrients by some trees.
How to raise soil pH
Apart from understanding how to lower soil pH, you must also know how to raise it if the need arises. For instance, if you went overboard and ended up having soil that is too acidic, then this section is for you.
To raise the pH of the land is to make it less acidic and perhaps a little alkaline. The most effective way to increase the pH of the soil is by applying material that contains lime. The finer the particles of lime, the faster the results.
Hence, ground agricultural limestone is the most preferred for this purpose. There are four different ground limestone products that farmers can choose from: pelletized, granular, pulverized, and hydrated.
Various factors have to be considered in determining the amount of lime to be applied in different soils to raise their pH. These factors include organic matter content, soil texture, and types of plants grown.
For instance, soils with high clay content require more lime to make the same pH change as soils with lower clay in them. For the best results, you should apply lime in your soil three months before you plant. Also, ensure that the soil is moisturized enough because lime will not react with the soil without moisture.
PRODUCTS REVIEW- SOIL PH TESTERS
Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1
|Atree||12.91 x 4.06 x 1.69 inches||pH, moisture and light intensity||3.45 ounces|
Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter
|Gain express||5 x 4 x 5 inches||pH and moisture||6.4 ounces|
HealthyWiser Soil pH Meter
|HealthyWiser||13 x 4 x 1.55 inches||pH, moisture and light intensity||3.2 ounces|
Sonkir Soil pH meter-MS02 3-in-1
|Sonkir||11.5 x 2 x 1.5 inches||pH, moisture and light intensity||2.71 ounces|
Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH, N, P and K
|Luster Leaf products||1.54 x 5.83 x 12.2 inches||pH, potassium, nitrogen and potash||7.2 ounces|
1. Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1
If you want accurate and reliable results at a pocket-friendly price, the Atree Soil pH Meter, 3-in-1, will impress you. It will ensure that your farm, garden, or lawn are in a green, healthy state, both indoors and outdoors.
The tester has a 3-in-1 design that tests the pH, light intensity, and moisture content in the soil. Thus, it will enable you to adjust the levels of these elements accordingly.
The tester has a calibrated readout scale where the measurements are indicated. The light sensor is in the measurements of 0-2000 LUX. The pH scale is between 3.5 and 8, where the former represents acidity,
and the latter indicates alkalinity. The moisture sensor uses colors to show the amount of moisture in the soil: red indicates that the soil is dry, green means that the soil has moisture, and blue indicates that the soil is wet.
The tool is designed such that it has two probes that are inserted into the soil to obtain a reading. To use it, you have to set the switch to the dimension that you wish to measure between moisture, pH, and light intensity. Then insert the probes about 4-6 inches and read the scale for ten minutes.
- It is compact and can, therefore, be used for both indoor and outdoor purposes.
- It is easy to use- you only need to insert the probes into the soil to obtain results.
- It does not require batteries or electricity to operate.
- You have to wait for ten minutes to obtain a reading.
2. Gain Express Soil PH & Moisture Meter
If your focus is on the accuracy, then the Gain Express Soil pH & Moisture Meter is what you are looking for. This tool has an accuracy level of ±0.2, which is more than can be said for most other soil pH testers.
It is a simple tool that is very easy to use. Gain Express is made up of one electrode that is 295 inches long. Having a design that is longer than most other testers, means that the tool sinks deeper into the soil, which ensures the reliability of the results.
The pH measuring range is between 3-8 pH, where 3 is acidic, and 8 is alkaline. Its dual meter also measures soil moisture in a scale between one (dry) and eight (wet).
- It is relatively more accurate than other soil testers.
- It does not require batteries to operate, which renders it ideal for the long-term.
- It is easy to use.
- It is costly.
3. HealthyWiser Soil pH Meter
The HealthyWiser is a wise purchase if you are aiming for healthy lawns and gardens that are lush. It has a 3-in-1 design that measures the soil’s pH, moisture level, and light intensity.
It will enable you to make wise decisions when choosing the right crops to plant.
The tool is designed to have double probes that are inserted into the soil to obtain results. It is very practical and easy to use since no preparations are required before the measurements are done.
Furthermore, the results are accurate and precise, which makes it very appealing. It does not need batteries or gimmicks to operate; thus, it can be used from time to time, and you will not have to make another purchase any time soon.
- It is extremely practical and easy to use.
- It is pocket-friendly in relation to its value.
- It is compact, which makes it applicable both in the indoors and the outdoors.
- You have to wait ten minutes to obtain results.
4. Sonkir Soil pH meter-MS02 3-in-1
If gardening and landscaping are your cup of tea, then the Sonkir Soil pH meter is the best kit for you. It has a three-way design that allows you to perform more than just one function- on top of measuring the pH of the soil, the tool also measures the light intensity reaching your plants and the wetness of your soil.
Thus, it enables you to make sound decisions regarding the types of plants to grow and the adjustments required to sustain the existing plants.
Results obtained are relatively faster and more accurate compared to a majority of similar models, thanks to the premium double-needle detection technology.
To obtain results, simply insert the metallic probes into the soil at a depth of 2-4 inches and give it a minute or two for the pointer on the dial to stabilize and provide an accurate reading. The tool does not require batteries or electrical power to function and can, therefore, be put into use right from the box.
- It is compact enough to be used both in the indoors and the outdoors.
- It offers great services for its price.
- It is extremely easy to use.
- It uses a double-needle detection technology which makes it fast and accurate in obtaining results.
- The needles are not that durable and may require replacing after some time.
5. Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH, N, P and K
As the name suggests, the Luster Leaf tests for pH, nitrogen, potash, and potassium in the soil. It comes with 40 capsules for this purpose, with each element having 10 designated capsules of a different color.
The capsules for measuring pH are green, the ones for nitrogen are purple, potash is blue and potassium, orange. For accuracy during tests, the kit comes with an eyedropper to facilitate the transferring of test solutions into the color comparators.
It utilizes optics and LED to read the colors. The inexpensive kit comes with complete instructions and fertilization guidelines.
On top of that, it provides a booklet with information on the plants that are most compatible with the soil at different pH levels. This makes decision-making a tad easier. Even more appealing is the fact that the soil pH preference list is for more than 450 plants.
- It is cost-effective
- Results obtained are quick and accurate.
- It has a pH preference list of more than 450 plants.
- It comes with guidelines and a booklet that is very informative.
- You require very good eyesight to accurately read the results.
Most farmers do not really understand how vital soil pH is for plants. The pH needs to be at optimal levels to facilitate plant growth.
However, before making any changes to your soil, ensure that you test it using one of our recommended products. This will ensure that you have the right information before altering the pH of your garden. You might also like How Long Does Soil Acidifier Take to Work?