By Dave Nanda, Seed Consultants, Inc.
In the last couple of weekly articles we discussed what pH value is and the importance of hydrogen for plant growth. As we discussed last week, hydrogen is one of the four elements essential for all life.
• Plants absorb hydrogen through water by a process called osmosis. This process is what makes the nutrients travel through the water into the plant. Soil pH plays an important role in water and nutrient uptake. We saw last summer that once a plant dies due to too much heat or lack of water, the late rains could not revive it.
• A pH neutral environment is suitable for most plants. However, the pH values required by corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa are somewhat different for optimum performance. Some examples of crop preferences for acidic or alkaline soils are given below:
• Potatoes and radishes like acidic soils with pH value of 5.0 – 5.5
• Soybeans and crimson clover like pH of 5.5 – 6.0
• Corn, cucumbers and tomatoes like pH of 6.0 – 6.5
• Alfalfa, celery, lettuce and onions like pH of 6.5 – 7.0
Since we have to grow different crops on the same ground, we need to adjust the pH values of our soils so they are suitable for most of the crops that we intend to grow. We cannot have constantly fluctuating levels of acidity or alkalinity. For uptake of nutrients by the roots of crop plants, a proper balance of 5.8 to 6.8 pH value is essential.