Solutions to Soil Problems: Soil Acidity


Soil pH

          Rhododendrons
  Rhododendrons are very tolerant of acid soils and grow best in soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5.
Photo credit: Uwe Fischer Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
 
 

Influence of soil pH on the relative availability of plant nutrients in a typical mineral soil.

  Influence of soil pH on the relative availability of plant nutrients in a typical mineral soil.
Image source: Chart of the Effects of Soil pH on Nutrient Availability
 

Surface application of lime to a field. Plants should be irrigated after lime application to ensure the foliage is free of the amendment.

  Surface application of lime to a field. Plants should be irrigated after lime application to ensure the foliage is free of the amendment.

Solutions to Soil Problems: High pH


        

Iron chlorosis, or iron deficiency in plants, causes yellowing of leaves while the veins remain green.

Iron chlorosis, or iron deficiency in plants, causes yellowing of leaves while the veins remain green. Photo source: Charlotte’s Place Landscape and Interior Decor Consultant

 

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs.

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs. Photo credit: lastonein Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

 

Sphagnum peat moss comes from formerly living sphagnum growing in bogs.

Popular climbing clematis vines, grow well in high pH soils. Photo credit: Qsimple Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Soil pH

Soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of a soil, and is reported as …

Soil Testing


         
 

Soil testing can identify factors limiting plant growth. Photo source: NRCS SD Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

 
 

A soil sampling probe as a simple, non-invasive, and accurate way to collect a soil sample.
Photo credit: John A. Kelley, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Soil Science Photo Stream Flickr CC BY 2.0

Soil testing may identify a lack of plant nutrients critical for optimum growth. For instance, nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium levels may be limiting plant growth, along with a lack of …

Soil Salinity

Soil salinity is the concentration of salts found in the soil. High salinity in soils can be a problem. Plant vigor will be compromised, seed germination will be poor and, if the salinity is high enough, plants may wilt and die.

Effects of Salinity on Plants

As the concentration of salt ions increases in soil, plants have a lower ability to take up water from the soil. Plant roots contain varying concentrations of ions. As the salinity of the soil …

Soil Testing Laboratories


        
  Students working in a soil testing laboratory
Photo credit: snre School of Natural Resources Flickr CC BY 2.0

Soil testing laboratories provide a variety of soil analysis services. Tests recommended for lawns, gardens, and landscapes should include soil pH, the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, soil pH, and salinity. 

What does the laboratory test and how?

The process requires mixing several random soil samples (see instructions on submission packet) before submitting for testing. Results of the test give information …