Following harvest, we were finally able to collect our thoughts and get caught up on reviewing soil samples taken this fall. We are still contemplating changes we will make to our planter, so we don’t have a fertility plan yet. But fields were identified that need lime.
The weather has been okay, so we are working on hauling lime and having it spread. Since we have our soil tested in 2.5 acre grids, the lime recommendation is generated according to those samples. Even though it costs a little for the variable rate application (VRT), we save money in the long run.
Lime is used to adjust the pH or acidity of soil. The ideal window for pH for soil nutrient availability is between 6.5 - 7. VRT application allows us to get more of the field at ideal pH levels. This saves money not only in the product and application, but it also saves money because we don’t have to apply as much of the other nutrients if they are available from the soil. In particular, micronutrients can get tied up quickly if pH is too high or too low.
Lime is a high volume application. Often the minimum rate applied is 1 ton per acre. Sometimes rates can run up to 3 tons per acre. Product is hauled in by the semi load. Lime also takes a while to work in the soil. A chemical reaction must take place in order for the pH to be raised. If at all possible we prefer to put lime on in the fall. Typically lime only has to be applied every 3-7 years.
Not all lime is the same
We have pulled out of three different quarries this week in order to get the most ideal lime for each farm. We rely on the Indiana Ag Lime Council annual report and our soil test agronomist to help us identify the best lime for our situation. Unfortunately, we aren’t near to any lime stone quarries (river rock is common around here). It’s 50-70 miles to get the lime, when possible we try to haul corn toward the quarry and bring lime back. This week has been a bit of a time crunch, so we’ve been deadheading down.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.