Quantifying the pH-Response of a Peat-based Medium to Application of Basic Chemicals

in HortScience

The objective was to systematically quantify the dose response from applications of several alkaline materials recommended for raising pH in acidic media. A 70 peat: 30 perlite (by volume) medium was mixed with a pre-plant nutrient charge, a wetting agent, and between 0 and 1.5 kg·m3 of a dolomitic hydrated lime resulting in six starting-pHs between 3.4 and 6.4. The supernatant from a solution of Ca(OH)2, 2.5 to 40 mL·L-1 of a flowable dolomitic limestone suspension, 99.5% KHCO3 between 0.6 to 9.6 g·L-1, 85% KOH between 0.056 and 0.56 g·L-1, 15N-0P-12K water-soluble fertilizer at 50 to 400 mg·L-1 N, and a distilled water control were applied at 60 mL per 126-mL container with minimal leaching as a single drench (except the 15N-0P-12K that was applied about every three days). All chemicals increased medium-pH within one day, and pH remained stable until day 28 except for Ca(OH)2 which showed a 0.2 unit decrease in pH from day 1 to 28. The Ca(OH)2 and KOH drenches raised medium-pH by less than 0.5 units, and there was a slight decrease in pH from the 15N-0P-12K for starting-pHs lower than 5.0. Flowable dolomitic lime and KHCO3 raised pH by up to 2 pH units, averaged across starting pHs and 1-28 days after application. The effect on medium-pH increased as concentration of flowable lime and KHCO3 increased. Effect of flowable lime was greater (up to 2.9 units) at lower starting-pHs, whereas KHCO3 was less affected by starting-pH. Medium-EC increased by <0.6 dS·m-1 following single applications of all solutions.

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