Vinegar for lowering soil pH? Anyone else doing this in turf?

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Marcos, Feb 8, 2008.

  1. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    (I've been following the 'lime' thread on here, and I thought it was only fair to balance it all out with a little talk about lowering pH.)

    For the past year I've been experimenting with two sections of fescue turf locally, that both have had test results (from CLC Labs) with pH levels showing 7.7 and 8.1 respectively, at the beginning of the growing season 2007.

    The 7.7 site has pretty decent, loose soil in general. Probably never disturbed.
    The 8.1 site is very heavy clay, soil disturbed and definately turned over from excavation and home building operations.

    On (just) one third of BOTH sections, I've applied split-pea sulfur at the typical rate of 50# / 1000. I did this three times at different points last year.

    On the "opposite" thirds, I applied 7% white vinegar to the turf at a dillution rate of 1 oz / gallon, and a spray rate of 4 gallons per 1000 sq.ft.
    I also did THIS 3X last year.

    And in the "middle" of both sections; I did nothing.
    This is the 'control' turf in the experiment.

    Right now, I'm about ready to send six new samples back up to Chuck Darrah at CLC to see how this somewhat-crude experiment turned out.

    Depending upon the may continue into 2008.

    Who else out there has used vinegar to lower pH in turf ?
    What are your experiences with tank mix compatibility ?

    I know about it's (somewhat more concentrated) uses in weed control...but I've also come to understand over time that traditional pesticide performace, both insect and weed controls, can be enhanced to a certain degree when applied in a water pH solution that ranges from 5.5 to 6.5.

    The ultimate idea of all to possibly include 'minute' amounts of vinegar in most or all of my sprays where the soil has been proven to be alkaline, (which, around here, is just about everywhere! )

    Because I do almost all liquid fert already, it seems a natural marriage.
  2. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 504

    While vinegar will lower Ph, it's only temporary. I use 20% vinegar as an organic weed killer and spot spray for weed control.
  3. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    (Good to see you back, Gerry!)

    Yeah...I've heard from another person as well about vinegars' affect being "temporary" least in the (almost) ideal soil conditions she had in her garden.
    That's the reason why I tried my little experiment in two separate types of soil; to see if there would be any 'holdover effect' of the lower pH in the heavy clay vs. the virgin soil.

    My mom and dad used white vinegar with cistern irrigation water, when starting certain garden plants and flowers when I was a kid in the 60's and 70's.
    There are garden forums all over the internet that talk about this, too......and the "magic" formula always seems to be 2 tbs (1 oz) white vinegar / 1 gallon water.

    The late Ernst Kitel, a steward of nature, a great farmer and caretaker of a local Cincinnati county park; emigrated to the U.S. from Germany just before WW II broke out.
    He's the one who told me at one point about the use of vinegar, before he died in the mid 1980s.
  4. Newby08

    Newby08 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 277

    what is the 20%? is that 20% vinegar and 80% water? What kind of vinegar are you using and what, if anything else, do you have to do to it? How effective is it and how long does it take to get results?
  5. the.hines

    the.hines LawnSite Member
    Messages: 126

    Would it just not be easier and faster to spread pellet lime?
  6. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 680

    i thought we were talking about lowering the PH not raising it? lime shouldn't be applied to high ph soils.

    i've heard that balancing the other minerals to their optimum levels is better than applying sulfur or lime to raise or lower ph. anyone heard this or experinced this before?
  7. NattyLawn

    NattyLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,643

    Yes, it's been talked about quite a bit on here. But as some of us in here are LCO's, we tend to apply sulfur or lime to give customers a faster solution. When sometimes we're dealing with 5.0 pH, I'll use the lime. 6.0 to 7.2 and we're good. I also look at the trees and shrubs in the landscape as well when looking at these issues. As many of you know, oaks like the soil pH of 5.5-6.0, so there's another variable.
  8. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    I know I can do what I'm trying to do just as easily with split-pea sulfur.
    That's not the point.

    The point is... that my program has, up to now, been based almost entirely upon liquid applications of slow release fertilizers and pesticides.
    The soils that I apply to are (almost exclusively) S.W. Ohio clay.

    If I see a pattern that these clay-based soils will see a more 'longer lasting' lowering of it's pH, from white vinegar applications in conjunction with the fert /herbicide /insecticide applications, I may find that it's actually worthwhile, marketable (and ultimately profitable) in this area to promote an 'organic' LIQUID pH adjustment, if promoted the right way.

    But I'm not jumping to that conclusion...I'm trying to be fair to the 'scientific method'.
    I want to see the soil sample results 1st, and maybe give the sample plots a full season to see how much acidity will 'leach out' of them.

    In the meantime...maybe I'll convince someone at OSU to try an experiment like this on a piece of their Ag Dept acreage, too, when I'm up there later in the spring.
    Who knows ?

    Besides...I've already checked...7% white vinegar in mini bulks is really very affordable, all things considered.
    If this would work out to be a genuine long term benefit to clay-based high pH soils, it could be very worthwhile going through all the time and effort.
  9. Landrus2

    Landrus2 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,020

    Did you say vinegar yes it’s good for cooking.
  10. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Yes, Ptolemy!
    And the sun and the other planets in our solar system all revolve around the Earth, right ?!?

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