What is soil chemistry and what does that mean to me?

Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!

Ah, the “litmus test.” Do you remember that from your high school science days? You dip a piece of white litmus paper into a solution, and it turns red or blue1. If it’s red, your solution is acidic. If it’s blue, your solution is basic. Chemists assigned a number to the test called pH. The number can range from 0 (very acidic) to 14 (very basic, or “alkaline”), and a value of 7 is considered “neutral.”

One of my graduate advisors told me “if you can only measure one thing, make sure it’s soil pH.”

What does pH have to do with the soil in your yard or garden?

Soils are a complex mixture of organic and inorganic, living and non-living components. And with this complex mix comes some very complex – yet important – chemistry. If there is one principle that can frame and help simplify soil…

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