How to Test Soil pH: A Complete Guide

Producing high yields of agricultural goods requires a lot of backbreaking labor. Successful gardeners always do careful calculations and make extensive preparations in advance of planting. When it comes to achieving optimal circumstances for development, their first objective is to determine the pH of the soil. After conducting in-depth soil pH testing and determining the state of the soil, they settle on the most important option for balancing the pH. Read How to Test Soil pH!

Liming elements such as carbonates, hydroxides, silicates, and the like are added to soil with a lower pH level to increase it to a more desirable level. On the other hand, various substances may be used to increase the concentration of hydrogen ions in excessively alkaline settings. The pH of an environment may be lowered using a variety of substances, including peat moss and granulated elemental sulfur.

How acidic or basic is the soil?

The alkalinity or acidity of the soil may be determined by measuring the pH of the soil. As a result, pH may be used to evaluate the potential of hydrogen ions in a particular environment, even though the ions can have either a positive or negative charge. When a more significant number of positively charged hydrogen ions are present in the soil, we say that the soil is acidic. On the other hand, a larger concentration of hydroxyl or hydrogen ions, both of which have a negative charge, suggests that the soil is alkaline or basic.

The pH Scale: An Explanation and Introduction

pH Scale

On a scale from 0 to 14, the degree of acidity or alkalinity may be determined. The soil is considered severely acidic if the pH level measured after testing falls between 0 and 2. If the numbers are between 3 and 5, the atmosphere is slightly acidic. It is regarded to have a neutral pH level between 6 and 8. 9-11 is considered to be on the more fundamental level, while 12-14 is considered to be on the more basic level.

To put it another way, the alkalinity of the soil increases as one proceeds up the scale from 7 to 14. On the other hand, an acidic environment developed when the pH level dropped from 7 to 0.

The Importance of Being Aware of Your Terrain’s Potential Hydrogen Ion Content

As a gardener, you need to understand the pH level of your soil to assess whether or not the plants will have access to the necessary nutrients they need. In addition, the data may be used to determine which amendments are essential to enhance your soil structure.

One further advantage of doing a soil pH test is that it enables you to evaluate the state of health of your garden. The results of an analysis carried out using a pH meter disclose the pH level and the consistency of the soil.

You may have a better understanding of what to expect and possible solutions by testing the pH of the soil. For example, the fungus may be present if the soil has an overly alkaline and dry pH. Because most plant species are most productive at a pH ranging from 5.5-to 7, it is essential to work toward achieving a neutral pH.

Factors That Can Affect the pH of Soil

Factors That Can Affect the pH of Soil

Parental Guidance

The breakdown and weathering of rocks below the surface of the earth is the process that leads to the production of soil. The soil that is created might have varying levels of acidity or alkalinity. The breakdown of rock minerals deep under the earth’s crust into the soil results from a process known as weathering. Shale and sandstones are the rocks responsible for forming acidic soil, while limestone is responsible for the formation of alkaline soil.

Precipitation Level

The soils in regions that get a lot of rain are acidic because rainwater has a little acidic pH. Carbonic acid is created when rainwater mixes with the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. Bicarbonates and cations may be washed away by precipitation, increasing the number of positively charged hydrogen ions. However, the soil in dry locations is more likely to be alkaline since less rainfall and less bicarbonate leaching.


The soil may become more acidic due to the consistent nitrogen-based fertilizers on the farm. For instance, ammonium fertilizers go through nitrification, producing nitrates that plants may utilize. The process of nitrification results in the release of positively charged hydrogen ions, which causes an increase in the acidity of the soil.

The Deposit of Acid

Acid rain may fall everywhere, including forests, deserts, and other environments. To make things even more difficult, nitric and sulfuric acids are produced as a byproduct of the burning of fossil fuels in urban areas. These acidic byproducts are released either directly or indirectly by industry. Because of this, the rain becomes excessively acidic, which raises the level of acidity in the soil.

How to Test Soil pH: The Process

Before beginning any soil testing technique, you need a few fundamental instruments. The items in question are a clean bucket, some clean paper, and a garden trowel.

In the first step, dig up to a depth of 10 inches and collect a little amount of soil from each of the ten distinct sections of the garden. Collect just from the typical areas, excluding the sandy, damp, and other types, and continue until the bucket is almost full.

In the second step, you will mix the soil by stirring it while removing larger particles and trash such as twigs, stones, etc.

In the third step, Spread the soil mixture out over a thin piece of newspaper and allow it to dry out completely overnight. This step varies depending on the kind of testing being used.

Methods for Determining the pH Level of Soil

Methods for Determining the pH Level of Soil

Several different methods may determine the pH of the soil. Pick the approach that best suits your needs in terms of either the amount of money you have available or the degree of precision you need.

Examination by trained technicians in a laboratory setting

Your soil sample should be analyzed for the simplest and most accurate findings in a laboratory. Testing commercial soil is carried out in a laboratory by trained professionals, who report their results and provide suggestions. By following the guidelines, you will be able to bring the extremes of the soil’s pH, either its acidity or its alkalinity, into equilibrium.

pH test strips

Litmus paper is used to take the measurements required for this method, and the degree of accuracy achieved is dependent on the reader’s level of comprehension. When compared to do-it-yourself methods, the results that it delivers are more exact. To get started with the testing, you will require test equipment, including litmus paper, a bowl made of glass, some distilled water, and a spoon.

Mix in a bowl about one cup of garden soil and a quantity of distilled water that may be shaken up. Holding the test kit at the end that is not used for reading for about one minute after dipping it into the mud mixture is recommended. The kit must be removed as soon as possible, dipped in pure distilled water, and then the reading must be compared to the supplied value.

pH scales

The use of pH meters, as opposed to any other methods for determining the pH of the soil, yields the most accurate and trustworthy results. As a gardener, you will find it useful because it is simple to use and has a cost paid just once. It has a high initial cost, but considering how long it will serve you, it will prove to be a good investment in the long run. The instructions may be found in the following.

Step 1: The first thing you need to do is put some dry soil and some distilled water into a glass container and mix them.

Step 2: After giving it a good stir through, wait approximately a minute for it to become still.

Step 3: Once again, mix the ingredients, and then take the reading according to the directions provided by the manufacturer.

Nowadays, one may choose from a few different ph meters on the market. You can select the alternative that satisfies your cost, precision, and quality requirements. It is not difficult to choose an alternative that performs admirably in every kind of climate and provides clear and straightforward recommendations. To solve the issues you’re having with your garden, you should invest in a pH meter rather than using any of the other methods available.


Finally, knowing the pH of your soil might assist you in selecting the most productive crop to cultivate in terms of both quality and quantity. In addition, the pH report may be used to decide which chemical or fertilizer should be applied to the soil to bring the level of acidity or alkalinity in the soil back into equilibrium. After you’ve made the necessary adjustments, your plant will be in a better position to take in nutrients successfully. Consequently, pH meters are advised to be used to assess the soil texture and pH level.

Also Read:

How to Prevent Soil Erosion? – Prevent Erosion From Your Yard & Farmland

Top 15 Best Soil Thermometer Reviews – Measures Accurate Temperature in 2022

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