Soil acidity: the most common ways to determine

Soil acidity: the most common ways to determine

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The full growth of many plants and vegetable crops depends on the composition of the soil. Of all the parameters, the level of soil acidity is the most important.

Fertility, the amount of the harvested crop depends on this indicator.


  • The main types of soil acidity
  • Methods for determining acidity

The main types of soil acidity

Acidity is usually understood as the presence of salts, acids and exchangeable ions in the soil. Acidity is measured in two indicators: absolute and potential.

Absolute acidity is measured in pH. This number indicates the ratio of calcium ions to hydrogen ions. The amount of calcium ions and hydrogen ions in a neutral medium is the same.

On acidic soils, there are more hydrogen ions than calcium ions. In such an environment, nutrients are poorly absorbed.

When using potash and mineral fertilizers, their effectiveness decreases. If the soil contains more calcium ions than hydrogen ions, then the soil contains alkali.

In order for the indicator to approach the neutral level, such soil must be mixed with acidic or neutral soil.

Depending on the pH level of the indicator, several types of acidity are distinguished:

  • Strongly acidic earth - 4.1-4.5 pH
  • Moderately acidic soil - 4.6-5 pH
  • Weakly acidic earth - 5.1-5.5 pH
  • Neutral soil - 5.6-6.9 pH
  • Alkaline soil - pH 7 or more

On soils of medium acidity, raspberries and currants grow. Potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkin grow well on highly acidic soil. For growing zucchini, eggplants, cucumbers, a land of weak acidity is suitable.

Peppers, cabbage, beets, garlic, strawberries can be grown on neutral or slightly acidic soils. Sunflower, sugar beet take root well on slightly alkaline soils.

It is advisable to grow almost all vegetables in slightly acidic or acidic soils. Legumes, in particular beans and beans, are mostly grown in neutral soils.

To measure the potential acidity, additional ions are introduced into the solution to determine the solid phase of the soil and its progression. If the land will be used for a long time, then the potential acidity is an important indicator.

The quality of the soil, as well as the suitability for growing individual crops, depends on the level and type of acidity.

Methods for determining acidity

The acidity level must always be monitored. Soil acidity can be determined in one of three ways:

  • on weeds and plants
  • litmus test
  • special device

On soils of strong acidity, you can see plantain, horsetail, buttercup, cornflower. Euphorbia and clover grow on moderately acidic soil.

Wheatgrass, white clover, cornflower, Ivan da Marya can be found on slightly acidic soils. In a neutral environment, meadow clover, chicory, and shaggy sedge grow. On alkaline soil, you can find Siberian elderberry, rough elm, etc.

Another way to determine acidity is with litmus test. It can be purchased at a specialty chemical store. You will also need a colored indicator that has a pH scale.

Dig a hole in the area and take soil for the sample from a depth of 20-25 cm. Pour distilled water into a deep container, add earth and stir well. Leave in this state for 10-15 minutes, and then stir again.

Next, apply litmus paper to the top layer of the soil, or take the soaked earth in your hands and squeeze the paper. After a few minutes, the litmus paper will turn bright red, yellow, or green.

If the litmus has acquired a bright red color, then this indicates a high acidity of the soil. When the paper is painted yellow, the soil is slightly acidic.

A greenish color on litmus paper indicates a neutral soil composition. If the litmus paper turns bright green, then the earth is alkaline. You can determine the absolute acidity of the soil using an acid meter.

There are other methods for determining the pH level. Pour a glass of hot water over a few currant leaves and leave for 10 minutes. When the broth has cooled, add a little earth. If the broth turns red, then the soil is sour.

The presence of a greenish tint indicates a slightly acidic soil. With neutral soil, the broth will turn blue.

At home, you can use vinegar to determine acidity. To do this, you need to take a handful of earth and add a few drops of vinegar. If small bubbles appear, then the ground is neutral. If there are no bubbles, then the soil is sour.

If, after carrying out an experiment to detect acidity, the soil is acidic, then it must be lowered. For this, chalk or limestone is used. To increase the level of acidity, the soil should be fertilized with humus needles.

Also, the site can be filled with a solution of potassium permanganate. You can determine the acidity of the soil at your summer cottage by using one of the above tips.

Video on how to determine soil acidity using litmus:

Watch the video: Soil acidity: How to monitor and manage soil acidity on your farm (August 2022).