• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Lowering Soil PH on large scale

 
Posts: 1
Location: Pacific Northwest - Oregon
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone. New here. Great community from what I've seen so far. Excited to be a part of it.

So I'm looking to purchase some property (40 acres or so), and after reviewing the soil analysis done by the state, the soil seems to have a much higher PH than what I would want, to grow my crop. I know that using elemental sulfur is a method used to bring down the PH, but I'm concerned about side effects. Are there other, more natural ways (that won't break the bank) to bring down the PH?
 
steward
Posts: 3374
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
777
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Is the pH above 7?  Compost and organic matter tends to bring the pH toward neutral (or even a bit below) as it improves soil quality.

I find your problem ironic, because I have 40 acres south of Portland and it's all too acidic.  I'm trying to think how I can bring the pH up in my pastures and orchard.  (The forest likes being acidic, I think.)
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 3374
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
777
hugelkultur urban chicken food preservation bike bee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can say that I used elemental sulfur to bring down the pH for blueberries back when I lived in Wisconsin, and it worked well.  This was small scale, though, for about 10 blueberry bushes.
 
gardener
Posts: 6686
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1337
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Javier Lopez wrote:Hello everyone. New here. Great community from what I've seen so far. Excited to be a part of it.

So I'm looking to purchase some property (40 acres or so), and after reviewing the soil analysis done by the state, the soil seems to have a much higher PH than what I would want, to grow my crop. I know that using elemental sulfur is a method used to bring down the PH, but I'm concerned about side effects. Are there other, more natural ways (that won't break the bank) to bring down the PH?



OK, so what is the pH? you didn't tell us.
Until I know where the starting point is, it would be rather futile to try and give methods that work for large scale amendments.

Redhawk
 
gardener
Posts: 1757
Location: Los Angeles, CA
485
hugelkultur forest garden books urban chicken food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To lower the PH, I'd go with Sour Patch Kids.

To raise PH, I'd go with Tums.  Lots and lots of Tums.

You're welcome.



Or you can amend it heavily with carbon (wood chips work fantastic) and let the soil microbes make their contribution.  Healthy, humus-rich soil tends to minimize the significance of PH.  In the end, it seems most reasonable to plant things that like to grow in the PH God has given you, rather than try to amend an entire field.  On a small scale (raised beds), you can alter the PH, but on a macro scale, the volume of inputs that you'll have to purchase and add will be so significant and cost prohibitive that it hardly seems worth the while.
 
Posts: 33
Location: Alberta, Great White North zone 4
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Most legumes, brassicas and asparigus like alkiline soil.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4958
1154
transportation duck trees rabbit tiny house chicken earthworks building woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You just need sulfur, the good thing with high PH is, once you add sulfur it works for a VERY long time, unlike us with acidic soil which requires lime that only works for 3-4 years.

But everyone is right, the less a person tries to fight it, the better. I raise sheep which like grass, and grass can tolerate PH levels as low as 5.9, where as with corn I would need 6.8. We used to grow poatoes from 1838-1988 and for good reason, we have gravelly loam soil, and poatoes like acidic soil with lots of nitrogen. Use what you got.

I know nothing about buying sulfur in bulk, but here in Maine we can get lime, but it is expensive. $22 a ton for mill lime, and last year I did 22 acres for $850. It makes a huge difference though, without getting the PH right, a farmer is wasting money on fertilizer. The plants just won't uptake it unless they have proper PH levels.

 
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First, find out WHY your soil has the pH it does. Was it just over-limed recently? Is alkaline irrigation water affecting the soil pH? Or, more likely, is your soil alkaline?

If you have alkaline soil, even heavy applications of sulphur won't have a lasting effect on soil pH. To keep the soil pH low, you'll have to re-apply sulphur every few years, much like farmers with acidic soil lime their soil periodically.

This study applied 10,000 lbs of sulphur per acre and it only dropped the pH from 8.0 to 7.5 and it was back up to 7.8 within 5 years.
https://www.agvise.com/educational-articles/does-elemental-sulfur-lower-soil-ph/

Suggest you focus on growing crops that will thrive in your soil's pH. Alternatively you can add organic matter which will bring the pH closer to 7 by increasing the CEC of the soil. Again, you will need to add a lot of it, every year, which can lead to other problems. Compost has a NPK of roughly 1-1-1, while most plants use these nutrients in ratios from 5-1-1 to 10-1-1 so it can be easy to over-fertilize the soiil, especially if it has much clay in it, which will hold the excess K (potash), potentially leading to very high levels of potash over time.
 
I'm tired of walking, and will rest for a minute and grow some wheels. This is the promise of this tiny ad:
Rocket Mass Heater Manual - now free for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/8/rmhman
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic