Testing the pH of a soil is very crucial before planting is done on such soil because it determines the type of crop that will grow well on the soil.
Testing soil ph in the laboratory is the best way to test soil ph but it is expensive and not easily located. Recent research has shown that soil pH can be determined manually without going to the laboratory and the result derived is approximately equal to that from the laboratory.
Methods of testing Soil pH level
There are three (3) ways of testing soil pH, these are:
1. How to test soil pH with litmus paper
Litmus paper is a pH sensitive paper used to determine the acidity and alkalinity of a substance. It comes in a pair, a red and blue litmus paper. Red litmus paper turns blue under alkaline conditions while blue litmus paper turns red under acidic conditions.
To use this soil ph test method to determine soil pH, get the sample of the soil to be tested inside a container, add distilled water to it so that it looks slurry or forms paste. Insert the Litmus papers and observe the change in color. If the red litmus paper turns blue it means the soil is an alkaline soil and if the blue turns red, it means the soil is acidic soil.
2. How to test soil ph using Vinegar and baking soda
Vinegar and baking soda are common materials used in food industries; they are both sensitive to acid and alkaline. They can be used to determine the pH of the soil.
To use this method to determine soil pH, collect the soil sample to be tested, divide the soils into two portions and pour each in plastic. Add a half cup of Vinegar into one sample, if it effervesces (that is it brings out rapid bubbles) it means the soil is alkaline with pH ranging between 7-8.
To check if the soil is acidic, add distilled water (This is the water gotten from the cooling of the water vapor that evolves when you boil water or can also be gotten from chemist shops) to the other sample until the soil gets muddy, add a half cup of baking powder to it. If it fizzles out bubbles, it means the soil is acidic with pH ranging between 5 and 6. However, if the soils did not react, it means it is neutral.
3. How to test soil ph using Red Cabbage and Distilled Water
Red cabbage is a common vegetable; the juicy extract from the cabbage can be used to determine the pH of any substance it comes in contact with.
To determine the pH of the soil using this soil ph test method, chop the red cabbage into pieces with a knife. Boil the distilled water and later add the chopped red cabbage, allow it to soak for about 20 minutes before you evacuate the solid particles of the cabbage leaving the purple-colored liquid, with a neutral pH.
Pour the liquids into two different cups, divide the soil to be tested into two with each portion in different cups, pour little quantity of the liquid into little quantity of the soil like 2 full teaspoons. Wait for about 40 minutes to observe the change in color.
If the mixture is purple in color, it means the soil is neutral with a pH of about 6.5-7. If the mixture turns pink, it means the soil is acidic with a pH value of between 1-7, the brighter the pink color, the more acidic the soil is. If the mixture turns green it implies that the soil is alkaline with a pH value ranging from 8 – 14, the brighter the green color the more alkaline the soil is.
NOTE: Using distilled water is the best way to test soil ph without going to the laboratory because distilled water is free from ions that can react with the solution, thus, hindering the result to be gotten from the test. The Litmus paper can be gotten from any chemist.
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