pH LEVELS IN THE SOIL
What Is It?
pH is related to the concentration of hydrogen in the soil moisture. The hydrogen is an acid cation, so it has a negative charge. The greater the concentration of hydrogen ions the lower the pH.
Have I Got It?
There are many indicators if you have acid soil under the turf. Usually in acidic situations worm activity will be low or very low depending on the extent of the acidity. Quite often fertilizers will not perform well after application; this is caused by low microbial activity due to acidic conditions.
It is quite easy to check the soil pH either by obtaining an electronic testing meter or asking the Rigby Taylor staff to obtain a laboratory test.
What Do I Do If I Have Got Low pH?
When addressing a situation where low pH is causing problems in the health of turf, great care must be taken. Any application of calcium in a powder form can cause a fairly rapid change at the surface which could provoke certain diseases to become problematical. This is particularly the case when bent grass is present in the sward. There are micro-granular forms of calcium carbonate which act slowly and are therefore safer to use. Always hollow core or spike the turf before applying so that the granules are distributed throughout the profile.
It is worth checking with your fertilizer supplier the percentage of sulphur that their products contain. If acidic conditions are to be relieved products with low sulphur are helpful. When purchasing top dressing ask for the pH value. Because this is applied in large amounts it can be influential.
How Do I Prevent Low pH Returning?
If a venue is in a high rainfall area this can be difficult. Calcium can be leached away and consequently the pH of the soil will fall. As previously mentioned use fertilizer with a low sulphur content. One way to do this is to use liquid, as the nitrogen source is usually urea, which doesn't contain sulphur, as opposed to ammonium sulphate in granular products.
After spiking or hollow coring apply micro-granular calcium carbonate - this is called Microcal .
Microcal helps to re-dress the pH balance in soils that are too acidic.