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The importance of optimal soil acidity

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Acidity, or pH, plays an important role in a plant’s development process. The pH affects the form in which nutrients are present in the soil, and subsequently, the availability of these nutrients. 

Every living organism needs nutrients to grow, develop and thrive. So do plants. They require soil minerals. Important plant nutrients are:

  • Boron: strengthens the membranes and stimulates the development of growing points. 
  • Calcium: is a cell wall component and as such, strengthens the cells. 
  • Chlorine: is required for the salt balance and to enable the uptake of other nutrients. 
  • Phosphorus: is involved with the energy transport within the plant. It is an important element for the formation of roots, flowers and seeds. 
  • Iron: is required for the development of chloroplasts. 
  • Calcium: activates various enzymes and plays a role in the plant’s salt balance. 
  • Copper: is required for many oxidation-reduction reactions within the plant. These reactions cannot occur without copper. Copper also enables the formation of vitamins.  
  • Magnesium: is a chloroplast component and a building block for enzymes and cell walls. 
  • Manganese: is required to keep the chloroplasts firm and to enable the release of oxygen. It also enables the plant’s metabolism. 
  • Molybdenum: is required for the uptake of nitrogen (nitrogen fixation and nitrate reduction). Molybdenum is a building block for certain plant hormones. 
  • Nickel: enables enzyme functioning, in order to keep the nitrogen cycle going. 
  • Nitrogen: is an important component of amino acids and chloroplasts, among others. Nitrogen stimulates the vegetative development of a plant. 
  • Zinc: is a component of various enzymes. 
  • Sulphur: is a component of various amino acids and proteins. It also promotes root growth and plant hardness. 

Plant growth problems

Growth problems in plants can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, possibly due to the soil’s pH. Optimal pH-levels are between 6 and 7. Low pH-levels (an acidic environment) stunt nutrient uptake. This is because H⁺ ions have a negative effect on root growth, and subsequently, on nutrient uptake. Furthermore, low pH-levels hinder the availability of nutrients. On the other hand, high pH-levels might cause nutrients to take on different forms, which cannot, or to a lesser degree, be absorbed by the plant. 

The effect of acidity in the absorption of nitrogen

A good example of the effect of acidity is presented by the uptake of nitrogen (N₂): plants can’t absorb this substance as a gas, and are therefore required to draw it from the soil, where it is found as nitrate or ammonium. 

This process requires various bacteria: 

  • Nitrogen-fixing bacteria enable the atmospheric nitrogen gas to be converted into ammonium. 
  • Putrefactive bacteria convert waste proteins of dead organisms into ammonia. 
  • Nitrite bacteria convert ammonia into nitrite. 
  • Nitrate bacteria convert nitrite into nitrate. 

In short, these bacteria are crucial for the uptake of nitrogen by plants. Bacteria carry out their tasks best at pH-levels of 6 to 7. Below 6, nitrification occurs to a lesser and lesser degree. This greatly impacts the plant, as nitrogen plays an important role. For instance, nitrogen is required for the production of nucleotides. These are the DNA building blocks. Without nitrogen, the plant won’t be able to renew its cells, eventually causing it to die. 

BAC pH controllers

To increase or decrease your soil’s pH-levels, BAC offers highly concentrated pH⁻ and pH⁺ products. These enable the stabilising of the water reservoir, in order to allow the soil to reach optimal pH-levels. These products can be ordered in our webshop

Would you like to learn more about our products or the way they work? Feel free to contact us at any time. We look forward to helping you out. 

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