Healthy plants require the right soil pH levels. That’s why it’s imperative to know your soil’s pH levels. The right soil pH levels for your garden or landscape mean your plants can thrive. If you get the wrong pH levels for your plant’s needs, it will be tough for them to succeed.
Fortunately, there are ways to amend soil pH, so you achieve gardening and landscaping success. The right soil amendment makes all the difference. Keep reading to Learn more about biochar and how it can affect soil pH levels.
What Affects Soil pH Levels?
First, let’s review the basics of pH. The pH soil scale runs from 0 to 14, with 7 considered neutral. pH levels under 7 indicate increasing acidity, while levels above 7 indicate increasing alkalinity. The USDA classifies soil pH ranges from ultra-acidic, at less than 3.5, to very strongly alkaline, at greater than 9. However, soils at either end of these ranges are rare.
For most plants, soil with a pH level between 6 and 7 is best, as this is an ideal value for nutrient uptake. Lawns generally like a neutral pH level. When soil pH levels are too high or too low, expect nutrient deficiency, low microbial activity, and poor soil health.
Soil pH levels are affected by various factors, including:
- Soil texture
- Mineral content
Natural processes and human activities also affect pH levels. The former includes rainfall, which on average has a pH level of 5.6, or moderately acidic. The latter includes excessive fertilizer use, which can cause rapid soil acidification.
Acidic vs Alkaline Soils: How pH Impacts Plant Growth
Optimal pH ranges vary by the type of plant. While most plants prefer alkaline soils, there are some plants that do well in a more acidic environment. These include:
For many plants, the consequences of extremely acidic soil include impeded nutrient intake and altered microbial activity and composition. Mineral availability and uptake are reduced. Soil acidity affects crop production globally. This acidity is characterized by low pH and high aluminum.
Symptoms of high pH-induced problems include:
- Yellowing of tissue between the leaf veins (interveinal chlorosis)
- Poor plant growth
- Root discoloration
Plants dealing with low pH may experience:
- Stunted growth
- Yellow leaves
- Purplish edges or brown spots
In either situation, plants are affected by the nutrients available to the roots. Nutrient deficiency and excess nutrients can cause similar symptoms.
How to Regulate pH with Biochar
Biochar is a soil amendment created by subjecting organic material to pyrolysis. The biomass is heated to an extreme temperature in an oxygen-free environment. The result is a very porous, carbon-rich material but much depends on the type of organic materials used.
As per the University of Tennessee, biochar pH can range from 4.6 to 9.3, depending on the initial plant species and the production temperature. At Wakefield BioChar, our biochar products derive from 100 percent sustainably grown wood.
In a Chinese study, the addition of biochar increased the pH of acidic brown soil by 8.48–79.25 percent. Biochar also increased soil microbial diversity.
One of the great advantages of biochar is that it can neutralize extremely acidic or alkaline conditions.
Testing Soil for pH Level
Determine your soil’s pH level by purchasing a soil testing kit at a garden center or nursery or by sending samples to your county agricultural agent. Test soil pH with samples from the root zone, about 4 to 6 inches below the soil surface.
Properly Integrating Biochar into the Soil
Proper implementation of biochar into the soil is crucial. Aerate the ground thoroughly before application. Mix biochar into the soil, rather than just applying it on the surface. Otherwise, wind can scatter the biochar pellets. Keep the soil moist for five to seven days prior to planting. The amount of biochar needed depends on the type of planting and whether they are new or established.
Keep in mind that once biochar is integrated into the soil, it remains there permanently, at least on a human timescale. It can stay in the soil for centuries if not millennia.
Learn More from Wakefield BioChar
Today, our world is threatened by a rapidly changing climate. Using biochar does more than promote healthy soil structure, increased fertility, and higher crop yields. Biochar sequesters carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming and subsequent climate change. For every pound of biochar applied, two pounds of carbon dioxide are sequestered.
At Wakefield BioChar, our biochar and biochar blends deliver sustainably manufactured, organic health solutions for all growers. If you’re ready to start growing healthier plants, make sure to choose the right biochar for your soil’s needs. Biochar is especially effective at improving poor-quality or degraded soils.
Better Soil. Better World.