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Slightly Alkaline Pasture (PH 7.2)  RSS feed

 
Brian Vraken
Posts: 8
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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Hello all!

We are buying a small hobby farm with about 4 acres of neglected pasture (Had a hay cut in 2012, left since).

I haven't done a soil test on the pasture, but I've looked at the county soil survey data, and the soil we are on is a weathered limestone with a typical PH of 7.2, with free carbonates in the soil.

Now, I've done some research and see a mix of opinions. Some say that it's close enough to neutral to not have to worry. Others say it's worth applying elemental sulphur to get it down to ~6.8 (though that may be difficult with free carbonates in the soil).

How will a PH in that range impact the variety of pasture species I am able to grow?
 
John Elliott
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Tell us where you are, Brian.  If you are out west, a pH of 7.2 is on the acidic side, while that would be pretty alkaline compared to a clearing in the Georgia pine woods.  If you have a lot of limestone under you (like in the Ozarks), that's not nearly as high as it could be. I'm with those that say don't worry about it, at least to the point of putting elemental sulfur on it. 

There are lots of species that will grow at pH=7.2.  You will probably end up making your decision less on pH, and more on rainfall needs of your pasture species.
 
Brian Vraken
Posts: 8
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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John Elliott wrote:Tell us where you are, Brian.  If you are out west, a pH of 7.2 is on the acidic side, while that would be pretty alkaline compared to a clearing in the Georgia pine woods.  If you have a lot of limestone under you (like in the Ozarks), that's not nearly as high as it could be. I'm with those that say don't worry about it, at least to the point of putting elemental sulfur on it. 

There are lots of species that will grow at pH=7.2.  You will probably end up making your decision less on pH, and more on rainfall needs of your pasture species.


I suppose that's quite vital info! I've updated my profile, but the land I'm looking at is about 30mins south of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I'm kind of on a boundary between zone 5a / 5b.
 
John Elliott
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Sounds like a good place to try some rye or barley this spring.  Any wild stands in the area?  How do they look?
 
John Stannum
Posts: 17
Location: NSW Australia
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I'm an advocate of letting your soil biology take care of your PH.
Aerobic bacteria will push your PH towards 11, fungi will push it towards 5.5, anaerobic bacteria will push it towards 3.
So try to inoculate mycorhizal fungi on your seeds, then it'll take care of itself.
 
Brian Vraken
Posts: 8
Location: Eastern Ontario, Canada Zone 5b
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Just following up 4 months later:

We bought the property in February, and by the beginning of June the pasture areas was waist-high grass and weeds, which lots of shrubs and small trees. I dragged a bushhog over it twice about 10 days apart, and it's now growing 'mostly' grass with an assortment of other species mixed in (including wild parsnip according to the blisters it's given me).

There's lots of thistle in the pasture after mowing, so I'll probably do another high pass once it bolts. There's also a fair amount of milkweed in some areas.

Brian
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2990
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Sounds like you now have a lot of good mulch laying on that ground, which is great.
The next step I would recommend is to go to the nearest woods and gather up lots of fungi to spread over the field.
You can make slurries for ease of spreading the fungi, this doesn't need to be an even coating.
With the addition of the fungal hyphae you will see that pH start to head lower.

Redhawk
 
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