Lowering Soil pH

Explanation of goal and options – Many soils have higher than ideal pH levels. There are ways to lower soil pH into the 6-7 range but the effectiveness of the methods will depend on several of factors:

  • Soil Texture
  • CEC
  • Calcium Carbonate Content
  • Sub soil
  • Material used to acidify. Elemental sulphur is generally considered themost cost effective wal to lower pH.

The presence of calcium carbonate (found on our complete soil test) in particular will make it a challenge to cost effectively lower pH.


  1. Calculate the lime required to neutralize 1% carbonate in the soil – 3 tons/acre of elemental sulphur are required for every percent of calcium carbonate. Example: if the carbonates on your report is 0.5% then you need 1.5 tons/acre.
  2. Calculate the amount of lime required to lower your pH into the desired range using the chart below and add this to your amount in step one.
Desired change in pHSand
(CEC 5)
Silt loam
(CEC 10)
(CEC 20)
  lb S/Acre 
8.5 to 6.53707301460
8.0 to 6.53406701340
7.5 to 6.53006001200
7.0 to 6.5180360720
Reference: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/agf-507

Other Considerations

  • Soil bacteria convert the sulfur to sulfuric acid lowering the soil pH. It is important to note that this is a biological process (slow) and not a chemical reaction (rapid). The bacteria are active, when the soil is moist and warm. The soil temperature needs to be above 55F. The bacteria are not active in the winter so fall applications of sulfur have little effect on the soil pH next spring.
  • In addition, the soil must not be saturated, or flooded (anaerobic) or the sulfur is converted to hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell) by anaerobic bacteria. Hydrogen sulfide kills plant roots.
  • It is not reccomended to apply more tha 400lb/acre per year.




The Plant Tissue Tracker

The Plant Tissue Tracker

The Hefty Brothers, Randy Dowdy, and Kip Cullers all use plant tissue tracking to monitor nutrient levels through the growing season. You should too!

We have added a few features to our tissue tracker (pictured above) to make your life easier:
* Nutrients from multiple tissue tests are tracked on an easy to read report.
* Compare more than one zone/field on the same report.
* All data is tracked by GDU to provide a fair comparison between fields planted at different times.
* Average, High, and Low Ranges by GDU are provided for corn.
* Tracking nutrients through the growing season is also available for whole plant analysis. Not sure what whole plant analysis is? Read This: https://www.honeylandag.com/plant-tissue-services/whole-plant-analysis/

For more information on the Plant Tissue Tracker visit: https://www.honeylandag.com/plant-tissue-services/

Nitrates in Corn Silage

With dry conditions the risk of nitrate accumulation in corn silage is increased.  Here are a few things you should know:

  • Having high nitrates is a “perfect storm” where plants take up large quantities of nitrate and cannot convert it into other forms of N.
  • Soil nitrate levels are high this year. When soil nitrate levels are high, the risk of high nitrate levels in the plant are greater. We have been monitoring nitrate levels in corn fields for grain farmers and we know that the levels of nitrate in corn fields are much higher than usual this year.
  • Take caution after a rain. After a long drought a rain can cause a rapid increase in nitrate in the plant.
  • Fermentation will decrease nitrate levels. Typically, levels can be reduced by approximately 40% by waiting a couple of weeks.
  • Nitrates accumulate in the lower portion of the stalk. Cutting the corn silage higher may help reduce the levels.
  • Ideal levels of nitrate are under 1000 ppm and over 4000 ppm is considered unsafe to feed.
  • We report potential for high nitrate by NIR to give you a quick check. If nitrate probability is medium or high, we recommend a chemistry nitrate test to measure the actual level.

Nitrate Probablity

  • High nitrates lead to higher silo gas levels. Take caution when working with corn silage with high levels.


*Nitrate Information from OMAFRA Fact Sheet, “Potential Nitrate Poisoning and Silo Gas When Using Corn Damaged by Dry Weather for Silage, Green Chop or Grazing”