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  • Last modified 87 days ago (March 2, 2022)

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Lime restores proper pH

Staff writer

Applying lime to soil when it becomes too acidic helps farmers improve their crop output and allows for the most efficient use of nutrients.

Soil pH can influence activity of beneficial microorganisms. Bacteria that decompose organic matter in soil are hindered in strongly acidic soils. This prevents organic matter from breaking down, resulting in an accumulation of organic matter and the tie up of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, that are held in organic matter.

Agricultural lime is a soil additive made from pulverized limestone or chalk. The primary active component is calcium carbonate.

The use of fertilizers, especially those supplying nitrogen, are blamed for soil acidity. Acidity is produced when ammonium-containing materials are transformed to nitrate in the soil. The more ammoniacal nitrogen fertilizer is applied, the more acidic the soil gets.

Soil tests are used to determine whether soil is high in acid and would benefit from lime.

Cooperative Grain and Supply uses Precision Ag Spreaders from Galva for lime application. Most of it comes from a rock quarry near Florence, according to Precision Ag specialist Landon Herbel.

Ag Service of Hillsboro also supplies lime to farmers. It comes from water treatment plants in Wichita. Agronomist J.J. Voth explains that calcium carbonate is used to treat water and is a byproduct of water treatment. Ag Service hauls lime directly from water plants to farmers’ fields.

Lime can be applied at a flat or variable rate.

“Flat rates can work, but are sometimes less effective because certain areas of a field won’t be getting all the lime they need and other areas may be getting more than they need,” Herbel said.

He recommends that farmers take soil samples throughout a field so lime can be applied where it is needed.

Lime can be applied any time throughout the year, but most of the time it is applied between growing seasons after crops are harvested and before the next crops are planted.

Liming materials are relatively inexpensive, comparatively mild to handle, and leave no objectionable residues in the soil.

Last modified March 2, 2022

 

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