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Plants that raise pH level

 
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I live in the pacific northwest with some pretty acidic soil. Since I have an over-abundance of magnesium and calcium, amending with limestone or oyster shells (both of with are composed largely of these elements) to raise my soil's pH is not an option.

Other than increasing the fertility of the soil (through things like mulching/cover cropping/green manure/animal manure), are there any other ways you can raise the pH of soil?

Do you know of any plants that have the ability to raise the pH of the soil?

Thanks.
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Add Azomite rock dust, it has the other micro minerals, without the extra Ca, Mg, and Sodium.

Increasing the CEC will make the minerals in the soil more bio available even at 'lower' pH. You can increase the CEC with extra biomass in the soil
 
kevin cyndrz
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Thanks.

Ok so the alternative amendments I'm currently considering now are:

1. AZOMITE
Benefits: contains 70 minerals and trace elements
Disadvantages: Unsustainably mined from single source in Utah.

Source: Volcanic ash that was washed down mineral rich rivers and deposited in a seabed 30 million years ago.

CEC: ~27 meq/100 g

pH: 8

Chemical Makeup:
30.7806% Silicon
6% Aluminium
2.6230% Calcium, 0.4704% Magnesium
0.15% Nitrogen, 0.15% Phosphorous, 4.3417% Potassium
0.85% Soduim

2. BIOCHAR
Different biochar's may have very different characteristics depending on source material and the type of pyrolysis used

Benefits:
- contains microscopic vascular hollowed tubes that are potential havens for microbes, moisture, and vital nutrients.
- sequesters carbon for (potentially) thousands of years and can be produced in a manner that is carbon negative.
- creates a soil that can hold much greater amounts of greenhouse gases.
- can slow down soil degradation/erosion.
- excess gases from the production process can be stored and used to fuel other things.
- in general, no additional treatments are required.

Disadvantages:
- may be created in a unsustainable manner (but can also be created sustainably)
- may create greenhouse gases in the production process (but some of these gases may also be captured)
- unmatured or non-biologically activated "raw" biochar may take a longer time to work and will initially leach out vital nutrients if applied directly to the soil.

Source: Biomass that is burned in the absence of oxygen.

CEC:
- Raw biochar: ~10 meq/100 g
- Biologically inoculated, composted, and/or "matured" biochar: > 100 meq/100 g

pH: 8.5-9.5

Chemical makeup: Predominately carbon

Does anyone else have any suggestions on increasing soil pH? Is there a specific cover crop that works better than others?
 
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Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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Kevin, thank for posting!  If you have time for a followup tangent I am trying to brainstorm on ways to bring my soil ph up for Truffle production on the East Coast of the US (Blue Ridge Mountains VA). The prescribed culture for truffle production calls for 7-8.5ph and my soil sits at a beautiful and even 6.  Your post about Biochar struck me as a much better solution than annual liming. I wonder if there is knowledge out there about long term impact of ph change on biochar addition to soil. Any thoughts?
 
pollinator
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You can use seaweed or wood ash.
 
David Miller
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Yes but I want something to permanently alter the ph for the hazels, oaks and chestnuts permanently or at least something that doesn't require annual applications #permie
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Once the char is bio active via composting, simply add it around your trees and gently fork the soil, this will allow access to sub surface by the biochar and it will be a long term (estimated life span is in hundreds of years) soil ingredient.

As Travis mentioned, wood ash is a good alternative for raising ph in a controlled manner (which is how it should be done not as an instant leap to a new pH level)

It's my understanding that the mycorrhizal fungi that makes truffles is rather particular about what conditions fruits will form under, and these fungi swell and shrink seasonally making this one of the interesting crops to try and produce.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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David Miller wrote:Kevin, thank for posting!  If you have time for a followup tangent I am trying to brainstorm on ways to bring my soil ph up for Truffle production on the East Coast of the US (Blue Ridge Mountains VA). The prescribed culture for truffle production calls for 7-8.5ph and my soil sits at a beautiful and even 6.  Your post about Biochar struck me as a much better solution than annual liming. I wonder if there is knowledge out there about long term impact of ph change on biochar addition to soil. Any thoughts?



The trees that utilize the mycorrhizal fungi whose fruits are truffles usually prefer the slightly acidic soil to just above neutral soil which places the pH in the 6.8-7.5 range, if you check the European soils where they have hunted and found truffles for the last few thousand years, the soil is in this range not the 7.0-8.5 range.
Keep in mind that truffles that may come from commercially inoculated trees are going to be the black truffle varieties, not the whites (which bring the highest prices because no one has been successful in getting inoculation to work on this species of mycorrhizal fungi.

Wood ash is probably one of the best and most earth friendly products to use for adjusting pH up into the alkaline range. since it also will hold the mineral profile of the branches it was made from, it should be a fairly good amendment for this purpose.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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kevin cyndrz wrote:Thanks.

Ok so the alternative amendments I'm currently considering now are:

1. AZOMITE
      Benefits:  contains 70 minerals and trace elements
      Disadvantages: Unsustainably mined from single source in Utah.

      Source:  Volcanic ash that was washed down mineral rich rivers and deposited in a seabed 30 million years ago.

       CEC: ~27 meq/100 g

       pH: 8

       Chemical Makeup:
       30.7806% Silicon
       6% Aluminium
       2.6230% Calcium,  0.4704% Magnesium
       0.15% Nitrogen,  0.15% Phosphorous,  4.3417% Potassium
       0.85% Soduim

2.  BIOCHAR
       Different biochar's may have very different characteristics depending on source material and the type of pyrolysis used

       Benefits:
       - contains microscopic vascular hollowed tubes that are potential havens for microbes, moisture, and vital nutrients.
       - sequesters carbon for (potentially) thousands of years and can be produced in a manner that is carbon negative.
       - creates a soil that can hold much greater amounts of greenhouse gases.
       - can slow down soil degradation/erosion.
       - excess gases from the production process can be stored and used to fuel other things.
       - in general, no additional treatments are required.

      Disadvantages:
      - may be created in a unsustainable manner (but can also be created sustainably)
      - may create greenhouse gases in the production process (but some of these gases may also be captured)
      - unmatured or non-biologically activated "raw" biochar may take a longer time to work and will initially leach out vital nutrients if applied directly to the soil.

       Source: Biomass that is burned in the absence of oxygen.



       CEC:
       - Raw biochar: ~10 meq/100 g
       - Biologically inoculated, composted, and/or "matured" biochar: > 100 meq/100 g

       pH: 8.5-9.5

       Chemical makeup: Predominately carbon

Does anyone else have any suggestions on increasing soil pH?  Is there a specific cover crop that works better than others?




Keep in mind, you are doing trees so you want more fungal than bacteria.  For way way to much information on soil life:  http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/112-soil-microlife/
Be sure to charge the biochar.  I have way to much information on that if you like.  http://culturalhealingandlife.com.www413.your-server.de/index.php?/forums/topic/50-biochar/

I would establish the best type of fungus based inocculates you can get.  Consider Imo's, compost tea, fungus favored compost, fungus favored biochar and the microlyfe that is healthy for your type of trees. I could see making an indidual IMO for each type of tree taking samplings from strong and healthy specimens for imo1.  Anyways my point is however is best for your situation to make the soil life happy and optimum/effective for your trees and the PH will take care of itself.

At minimum, fungus based compost and a compost tea favoring fungal growth and with regular compost tea fungal based I think you will begin to see positive results.  It could take a bit for the new life to take hold and begin to influence the soil life.

I think you have a good plan.

 
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