Most agricultural plants grow well and produce well in neutral, acidic soils. However, when too many hydrogen ions accumulate in the soil, it oxidizes. This makes trees, grasses and bushes sickly and weak, even if the soil is well fertilized. Therefore, gardeners should check the pH value of the soil before and after planting.
Acidic soil is actually not bad for all plants. For example, hydrangeas, saffron, sorrel, heather and lupine grow well in soil rich in hydrogen ions. However, they are mainly ornamental plants and do not take up much space in the garden. Homeowners prefer to grow vegetables and fruits, and high levels of acidity are bad for them.
So why is a neutral pH so important for flora?
- In acidic soil, chemical compounds of elements are formed that are not absorbed by the roots of plants. This creates a situation where nutrients are present in the soil but not “recognized” by trees, grasses and shrubs. As a result, the cultivation of vegetables, berries and fruits remains “hungry”, unable to absorb the necessary nutrients.
- Then the acidic soil slowly kills the plants: the root system gradually dies off, and then the stems and leaves. And even fertilizers adapted to plants cannot save the day. They usually form additional pH compounds that further acidify the soil.
It is important to “organize” the soil in a timely manner so that young plants take root in a new place, and old ones give a good harvest.
Autumn or spring?
Spring and autumn are the main seasons when gardening ends. One of them is preparing the site for planting or wintering. The owners of wetlands and peat lands begin the process of deoxidation immediately before planting new seedlings, that is, in the spring, or after harvesting the entire crop, that is, in the fall.
In the spring, you can use a small amount of dolomite flour or quicklime. Otherwise, if the gardener decides to completely deoxygenate the soil between March and May (depending on the climatic conditions of the region), top dressing will have to be abandoned for the next year.
Autumn deoxidation of the soil is the best option, because
- In autumn, a general excavation of the site is carried out to a depth of 20 cm, and the use of lime or other substances that neutralize the acidity of the soil will maximize coverage and increase the efficiency of processing;
- Deoxidizers are absorbed into the soil for a long time because they do not dissolve well, and their use in late September – early October will help neutralize the pH level of the soil in winter;
- After autumn deoxidation, you can safely fertilize in the spring; it is well absorbed by the roots of plants and supports their healthy vegetation and growth.
You can even add neutralizing agents to the soil without loosening. This should not be done annually, but every 3-5 years in very acidic areas and every 6-8 years in slightly acidic areas.
What to apply?
Experienced gardeners have their favorite methods of deacidifying farmland. Ingredients are selected based on their effectiveness and relatively low cost. The main substances used to neutralize the pH level of the soil will be described below.
Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
is a base that can eliminate soil acidity. However, practice shows that the result of deoxidation with baking soda does not meet the expectations of gardeners. It is a fact:
- A half-kilogram pack of soda costs about 34 rubles. To process even a relatively small area of 3 acres, you need several sachets of this substance, which together will give 80 – 95 kg of soda. A simple arithmetic calculation will show that the cost of such a procedure will be about 5.5 thousand. rub.
- The sodium in baking soda tends to accumulate in the soil. If there is too much sodium in the soil, plants can become poisoned and die.
- Many plants do not take root in soil in which the amount of sodium has changed even slightly.
Local deacidification is recommended (under the roots of trees or in several beds) and only when there are no more effective substances.
Slaked or crushed lime
Lime is a cheap and effective soil acidifier. However, it should not be added to the soil in its pure form, i.e. quicklime. Otherwise, it can affect the soil and even kill growing vegetables, fruit and berry trees, “burning” their roots.
Lime is killed by adding plain water to it. Adding lime to the soil enriches it with calcium, which is so necessary for the proper development of plants. The terrestrial version of the rock additionally contains magnesium compounds, which also have a positive effect on the development of the flora.
Rules for dealing with soil with lime:
- The substance is taken at the rate of 1 kg per 10 m 2 for sandy loam and sandy soils;
- for clay and clay soils 3 kg of limestone per 10 m 2;
- The average depth of limestone backfill is 16-20 cm.
Limes should only be used in autumn, otherwise they are not absorbed by plants.
Chalk is basically a type of lime, but it is softer and therefore more suitable for slightly acidic soils. Unlike ordinary carbonate lime, it can be used in small quantities before planting in the spring, about half a month in advance.
For autumn deoxidation, the following doses of chalk per 1 m 2 are used.
- slightly acidic soil – 0.1 kg;
- Medium acid soil – 0.2 kg;
- Strongly acidic soil: 0.3 kg.
After sprinkling the area with fine-grained chalk (1-2 mm), soil should be sprinkled on top.
One of the most useful and effective means of combating soil acidity. Dolomite flour is able not only to neutralize the pH level of the substrate, but also acts as a mineral fertilizer for most crops.
It also combines well with organic fertilizers and can be used in the spring. Dolomite flour practically does not “block” their work.
Dolomite flour is used in an amount of 35 to 50 kg per 1 sect, depending on the degree of soil acidification.
Wood ash can be used as a deoxidizer on soils with low levels of acidity. However, it is more suitable as a fertilizer because the soil needs a lot of this organic matter. To achieve the effect, apply from 1 to 2 kg of ash per 1 m 2 of the surface. Such an amount can oversaturate the soil with microelements and cause toxic poisoning of growing vegetable and fruit crops.
green manure plants
For those who do not want to bother with the calculation of the amount of deoxidizer per square meter of land, there is a natural and effective option – planting plants that eliminate soil acidity.
- sweet clover;
- white mustard;
These crops are also known for their honey harvest. Therefore, planting them on the land will be beneficial to the owners of the hives.
It is not enough to deoxygenate the soil, it is also necessary to maintain a neutral pH. It requires:
- In the first season after autumn or spring deoxidation, it is recommended to abandon root fertilizers in favor of fertilizers for the soil.
- Mulch the soil only with crushed limestone, phacelia hay, beans, beans or peas and pebbles. Such mulch does not cause soil oxidation. Sawdust and pine do not need to be used.
- You can purchase special biological preparations (for example, Baikal EM-1), which accelerate the deoxidation reaction.
Before choosing a deacidification method, the garden owner must take soil samples at different depths and in different parts of the site. By determining your soil pH, you can choose the best way to bring your soil back to a neutral state.