The alkalinity or acidity of a substance is usually measured using pH units on a scale of 0 to 14. When the pH level is about 7, it is described as neutral. When it goes below 7, it is described as acidity, and when it goes above 7, it is described as alkalinity. Generally, the soil ranges from an acidic pH of 3 to an alkaline pH of 10. Many farmers face the problem of low soil pH. Some soils are naturally acidic, and, in other cases, the low pH is due to prolonged and intense irrigation and fertilization.
The soil pH level below 5.5 can lead to crop damage and reduced yields. Under these conditions, the presence of micronutrients like manganese, iron, and aluminum increases and the problem of micronutrient toxicity may arise. Typically, the pH in the soil help to determine the nutrients found in the roots. Phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen are present in dissolved form in the soil moisture or water. Nutrients do not dissolve if the soil pH is very alkaline or acidic. Although there are different growing media with different starting pH levels, the impact of irrigation and fertilization on the pH level can be enormous.
To raise pH in the soil fast, there is a need for applying materials that contain some lime form. For instance, the most common material used is ground agricultural limestone because it rapidly becomes effective. Different soils need an extra level of lime for you to adjust the pH value. The organic matter content, soil texture, and the plants grown are all the factors that can be considered to increase the pH fast. For instance, soil low in clay need less lime than the soil high in clay to change the same pH.
The soil pH can affect the ability of plants to absorb essential nutrients. If the pH is too alkaline or acidic, it can retard or slow down root growth, limiting nutrients and water absorption. On the other hand, if the soil pH is very extreme, essential plant nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus are unavailable. Without proper nutrition, plants will deteriorate and can die. Adding trace of elements and fertilizers can help, but this can be a temporary solution. The best thing is to check the pH in the soil and correct any problems at the source.
How To Raise Ph in Soil Fast
Use Of Agricultural Lime
The most popular way to raise pH in soil fast is the application of agricultural limestone. However, lime solubility is relatively low; therefore, it generally affects the soil surface to a depth of no more than some centimeters when applied to the soil surface.
In the case of soilless media, lime must be involved in the media before sowing, often logistically tricky. To wait until planting only complicates things as the lime must be applied separately to each growing plant or container. Again, because of very low solubility, it cannot be used during irrigation.
Use Potassium Carbonate
Potassium carbonate is very soluble and can be applied through drip irrigation. Because of its high solubility can be easily applied to the entire root area with the irrigation water, and a deeper soil profile will be achieved. In addition, in growing media and soils, potassium carbonate can rapidly affect chemical reactions in a root zone, increasing the pH of the root zone.
Irrigation with a low buffering capacity of water (low bicarbonate content) can drastically reduce the pH level of the growing media. In this case, mainly when using an inert medium, a drop in pH can be a persistent problem. Conversely, regular use of potassium carbonate as part of the fertilization program can raise pH.
Use Baking Soda
It is the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to raise pH in the soil. Since you perhaps have the baking soda at your home, there's no need to buy additional soil modifications to raise pH. Baking soda is a beneficial solution, especially when you want a quick fix. It produces almost instant results where the significant changes in soil pH can occur in less than 24 hours if baking soda is used correctly.
If you use it to increase soil alkalinity, you don't have to worry about damaging or harming growing plants. It is much gentler in the soil when compared to other compounds. Therefore, you can use it when the plants are growing. While more effective materials provide a lasting pH change, they can be more expensive than baking soda.
Wood Ash to Increase Soil Ph
If you want an organic method of raising the soil pH fast, you can sprinkle about 1/2 "of wood ash on the soil and mix it with the first 6 to 20 inches of soil. However, if you add more than 2 pounds of ash from wood for every 100 square meters of land per year, the ability of plants to absorb nutrients can be compromised.
If you want to increase the pH of the soil significantly, it is best to add wood ash very early before planting and not rush the process. Of course, you should plan for small and regular use over several years, but it can be a very efficient and promising way to recycle wood ash.
Apply Oyster Shell Lime
This method to raise pH in the soil is entirely organic as it is made from oyster shells from a seafood industry. Because oyster shell lime can contain about 39% calcium, you can use it to correct calcium deficiency by raising the pH.
This product disintegrates very fast and is much safer for human and plant health than products containing hydrated lime. You should apply 50 lbs in every 1000 square meters or two to four tablespoons of the oyster shell lime per plant, depending on the needs of the initial soil test and the chosen crop.
Dolomite lime, also called calcium magnesium carbonate, is the common soil amendment used to raise pH in soil fast. Conventional and organic farmers mostly use it. However, it should not be used in soil that contains too much magnesium.
Although plants need a small amount of magnesium, too much magnesium can kill vegetables and inhibit plant growth. If the soil test shows that the soil has sufficient or abundant magnesium, change the pH of the soil by using another source of calcium.
Add Water Regularly
For lime to react with the soil, water is needed. For this reason, the application of lime on dry ground is always slower. Therefore, water the garden regularly. However, avoid watering, as this can wash away essential minerals and baking soda from the soil.
Hydrated lime act very fast with alkaline soil amendment, though it is very easy to overdose. It can quickly burn the plant roots and need to be avoided by beginners, but the most experienced gardeners can use it. This hydrated lime works much better with many lime products when incorporated into the soil instead of left on top. This is another reason why the lime application to lawns is often combined with fall watering and core aeration.
Continue checking the pH level
After applying lime, you are supposed to see the pH rise in a day or two. Test the soil regularly and watch for changes in the pH level. Also, you should adjust the pH after some months to get the plant you want for healthy growth. Check the soil after adding fertilizer or heavy rain, as this can affect the soil's pH level. It is better to take the necessary precautions instead of addressing how the soil pH can be increased later.
How to test pH in soil
The simplest way to test pH in the soil is to use the soil pH kit or soil pH tester, which you can buy at the nursery or garden center. Also, you can use the soil pH meter. It is best to some samples from that area to fully understand the pH of the soil. Ideally, it should be between 6.5 and 7.5 to be neutral, but if you want to raise it, you'll require a unique material to improve it, like lime.
It is crucial to know that adjusting the pH of the soil is not a fix, but it can be an ongoing process to attain the desired pH. Continuously cultivating the soil and adding synthetic fertilizers can make the soil more acidic; therefore, it is best to check the soil pH frequently and adjust it if necessary.
All of the ways listed above can help raise pH in soil fast, so you need to choose the one that best fits your soil. For instance, if your soil is rich in magnesium, it is better to choose calcium carbonate instead of magnesium carbonate. Then, depending on the initial pH result, only a slight adjustment may be necessary, adding a small product at an interval until the correct pH is reached.