Soil pH is essential for achieving optimal plant growth. Not only does each crop have its ideal soil pH level to grow in, but soil pH can also impact the soil's microbial health, the efficacy of pesticides in that soil type, and the availability of nutrients in the ground. High pH soils can be especially susceptible to nutrient tie-up.
What Are High pH Soils?
Any soil pH over 8 is generally considered high or alkaline. Alkaline soils are often found in the western portion of the U.S., where rainfall is less likely to wash acidic components through the soil. The rocks in these areas are made up of more basic elements, such as limestone, than the more acidic rocks in other parts of the country, such as granite. There is also less leaf and other tree debris to increase soil acidity as it breaks down.
High pH soils generally are considered calcareous, meaning they are high in calcium carbonate. These soils are also often high in magnesium; if molybdenum is present, it will also be elevated. Soils with a pH of 8.6 or higher often have high sodium levels.
Why High pH Soils Need to be Addressed
High pH soils lessen the plant availability of boron, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus and zinc — all of which are important for overall plant health. Without these nutrients, plants cannot do their essential functions, meaning they can’t efficiently utilize nutrients to create yield.
What Can We Do for High pH Soils?
Adding acid-forming components such as sulfur can help bring down high pH. Over time, many fertilizer formulations can bring down pH levels. Often though, as the biggest concern is the lack of nutrient availability, it is more efficient to add easily accessible nutrition than to try to bring down the soil pH. Using a starter fertilizer is an excellent way to add these essentials. Adding phosphorus and or iron in-furrow can help encourage uptake before the nutrients get tied up in the soil.
What Can Procure Do in High pH Soils
Procure® by Agnition is a biostimulant that enhances plant health and dark, green leaves to create crops that better withstand seasonal stresses. Because of its placement in-furrow, Procure encourages early growth so plants have the opportunity to take up nutrients earlier and faster — before they become unavailable in alkaline soils.
Procure has Microbial Catalyst® technology that increases the enzymes that raise the plant’s rate of photosynthesis. A 1-2 pint application of Procure increases carbon dioxide intake, promotes stay-green and plant health and leads to higher yields.