Exploring the soil acidification and root rot link

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Western Canadian soils are generally neutral to slightly basic in pH values. On average, there’s plenty of buffering capacity to the soil in the west but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of acidic conditions. What’s more, research is proving out to show that long-term zero-till combined with applied fertilizers is creating an acidic area near the soil surface.

That’s work that Dr. Barbara Cade-Menun is exploring out of Swift Current, Sask., at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research station. Acidification of soil in the top six inches is a real concern for several reasons, Cade-Menun explains, as changes in pH can make some soil nutrients unavailable to crops even if present in sufficient amounts.

Plus, there’s another link that’s worth exploring. Cade-Menun says there is work being done on the potential link between lower soil pH levels and the incidence of root rots, including aphanomyces.

Cade-Menun says that her work is exploring how adding lime as a pH buffer might work in a Western Canadian context, as it’s a common practice in Ontario and other growing regions that struggle with lower pH soils, in general.

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