Acid injection system for well water pump = increased salts in soils?

Asked May 21, 2019, 5:25 PM EDT

Hi, I contacted you folks yesterday regarding possible salt damage to our ornamental landscape plants once we start adding acid to our pumping system to lower the pH (we are currently at a pH level of 9.8). Our Maples, Stewartias, Hostas, etc. already have a history of becoming stressed during irrigation season. and I assumed it was related to high alkalinity of the water. Now I think my assumption was wrong; the type of damage done to the leaves appears consistent with elevated levels of saline (crispy edges) rather than alkalinity (chlorosis). It seems to me that, if our soil already contains a high level of salts and our plants don't like it, irrigating with treated water would just compound the problem. We may be looking at correcting the water and soil separately? Does that make sense? Thanks again, Sue

Lane County Oregon

3 Responses

If using an acid or using sulfur to bring down the alkalinity, these would not create salts. It just depends on what you use to change the pH. if you already have a system, check to see what the system is using since different water systems use a lot of different chemicals.

The 9.2 pH water by itself would damage leaves and roots. You say you treat the water but don't say what the pH value is after the water has been treated.

1 - You say you use acid - do you know what chemical formula you are using.
2 - was the well water tested for salts?

Plants do not like salt. The winter rains should have removed a lot of the salts from the soil. The only way to know if the soil is salty is to have it tested for salts.

Call Analytical lab in Eugene or another lab around Eugene and see if they test for soil salts.

Hi Ross,
Thank you for the response .Nice to know you are still out there helping folks. Sorry, I wasn't clear in framing my questions. We are still in the process of trying to figure out the best additive - for ourselves, our plants and fish. We had a complete well water test and the current pH level 9.8. We just tested the soil and sent the sample, along with the water test results to Earthfort in Corvallis.

Since we have not begun treatment, we have not been adding salts to the soil. The leaf damage to the margins on the leaves of our maples, etc. appears consistent with images of salt damage in on-line photos - not that due to high pH. In a different part of the garden, Hibiscus have leaves that turn yellow in the lamina but keep dark green veins. Am I wrong thinking this is more closely resembles a pH problem?

This is the first I have heard a sulfur additive offered up as a solution. If salt in the soil may already be an an issue - at least in parts of the garden - would that be a better option? I really appreciate your help in this. Your vast experience working with and willingness to help home owners, growers, gardeners both in the field and in the classroom make you a most trusted source of information

Since this can be complicated answer with a lot of info needed, please send a phone number so we can talk. Knowing the test results,, if you have them will also be very helpful - for soil and water.