What's the pH Level of Your Lawn?
For checking pH Levels, I use this Kelway acidity and moisture meter. Since I am at so many locations during the week, I need something that can give me instant readings while providing durability. You could Litmus paper, it is inexpensive and simple to use.
I believe this is the most important factor in determining the health and overall condition of your organic lawn. If it's too low, the roots are unable to absorb the needed nutrients no matter how many times it is fertilized.
The plants become stressed and vulnerable to insect damage, disease and weed over growth. Does this sound like your garden or lawn? How do you find out what's really going on with your soil? Why, get it tested, of course!
This level is directly related to the level of Calcium (Ca) in your soil, which is why lime is added to raise the level. Ca is considered the second macro-nutrient, however it is the most important element nutrient for a couple of reasons. First of all it helps the soil form stable aggregates that give it the structure requirements for holding nutrients. Second these aggregates allow water and air permeation. Then they promote prolific earthworm and micro-organism activity. These smallest of creatures are the foundations of the soil food web. Without them, the soil would be sterile and incapable of supporting plant life. As Calcium is used up, the level drops below 7.0 and becomes ‘acidic’. When you add lime (nutrient fertilization) you raise the level.
It is a measure of the balance between hydrogen ions and ions of the base elements called cations. Soil that is acidic typically has an extra hydrogen ion on the roots. This 'binds' the roots from absorbing the nutrients. Adding Ca (lime) neutralizes this effect and allows proper growth. This is why test results that indicate low levels often show very high levels of Phosphorus.
If the soil report shows that the soil is also low in Magnesium (Mg) then a dolomite lime is recommended, otherwise continue to use calcitic lime. For situations where Ca is low but P is sufficient you can spray Liquid Lime as a foliar feed to instantly supply Ca!
What will a soil test tell me?
It will provide you a ‘snapshot’ of the composition of your soil at the time of testing. It provides basic information on what is present in your soil as well as what is missing. With this information you can understand what your soil requirements are as well as diagnosis any potential problems.
Your soil test also measures the levels of; organic matter, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sodium, cation exchange capacity and percent based saturation. These represent the major elements effecting your soil, and therefore your soils overall health. See ‘Soil Chemistry’ to learn more.
With the proper organic fertilization and amendments your soil’s fertility will improve over time. It really depends on you and the quality and quantity of materials you add. If you follow our recommendations it will be the quickest turn around possible.
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