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soil ph and water ph are high???

Posted by pepper71 Tx (My Page) on
Sun, Nov 21, 10 at 16:10

I had the soil tested a few months ago and the PH was 8.1. I also checked the water PH and it was about the same. Whith the vegetables I grow I am looking for a PH of 6.5.
Heres my qeustion, if I get the soil PH to 6.5 and the water PH is still high would it help to shoot for a lower PH and let the high water PH hopefully get me some where in the middle,lol?
The water PH for my 200 square foot garden is not easily adjustable.
Thanks for any input.


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RE: soil ph and water ph are high???

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 21, 10 at 16:37

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, our soil has pH = 7.6, and the city water supply tests out to the same value as our soil. Nonetheless, we grow tomatoes, beans, swiss chard, butternut squash, and brussels sprouts every year, with good results. I do make compost with yard and garden waste, including considerable shredded tree leaves from a maple tree we own. Every spring, I add compost to the garden plot, and the soil is pretty easy to work after 15 years of this effort. I would guess that there are people in your area gardening successfully without any effort to lower soil pH. What sort of produce are you trying to grow?


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RE: soil ph and water ph are high???

Good question Pepper71: I too have the same combination though the numbers are slightly lower. My soil is strongly calcareous making matters worse and the water is high in bicarbonates making matters really bad. In my situation with the bicarbs., adding water will and does cause the soil pH to go up and micronutrients like Fe to become less available, the situation is worsened by the addition of more water. Also, the bicarbs. can cause the soil to disperse leading to poor water infiltraton.

Some believe the situation can be aided (not completely dealt with) through the additions of sulfur and organic materials to the soil, while these additions are certainly steps in the right direction, they will not chemically handle the effect of the high bicarb. water at the root/soil interface.

You are certainly correct that altering the water pH is not easy. It would be easy if done by the 5 to 55 gal. drum however. Here is what I am now faced with to deal with the bicarbs., acid injection into my drip system's irrigation water, I plan to use vinegar (Hines is standardized at 5% acetic acid fortunately) though it will be expensive. There are other acids, more concentrated, that could be used and I am trained in how to handle those hazardous acids but frankly would rather not. The technical aspects of acid injection are not insurmountable but attention to detail at all times IS CRITICAL!!! I have complete confidence in my ability to handle acid injection into my irrigation water but DO NOT RECOMMEND OTHERS TRY IT!!! Specialized equipment is MANDATORY for injecting most anything into a public water supply to avoid back flow into the water system, NO SHORT CUTS ALLOWED!!!

Now for the good news, it is possible that your water isn't high in bicarbs. in which case you will simply have to attempt to either manage the soil pH down constantly and/or choose crops that will thrive under the pH that you have, many will.


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RE: soil ph and water ph are high???

Get the humus (residual organic matter) level of your soil up and that pH will not make that much difference.


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RE: soil ph and water ph are high???

Use chemical ferts, they do wonders when it comes to acidifying soil. But say goodbye to earthworms too while you're at it. Sorry just kidding. No seriously, use chemical fertilizers.


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RE: soil ph and water ph are high???

Depends on the chemical fertilizers. For example: ammonium sulfate, sulfur coated urea, even urea without the sulfur coating...yes. Calcium nitrate, triple superphosphate, potassium sulfate...nope.
That's also a very slow way to push your pH downward, even in a soil with relatively weak buffering capacity it will likely take years to get the pH where it want it to be. If you're in a situation like Michael, with calcareous soils and bicarbonates in the water, good luck.


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