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Lime Applications Evident in Many Communities

Lime Applications Evident in Many Communities
Experts advise testing for soil pH and making applications now.

Driving through the country on a recent trip, my wife, Cara, noticed that some soybean stubble fields in a particular location looked extremely white. Obviously there was something on the field. "What is going on out there?" she asked.

One of two possibilities is most likely. Either the field had lime applied, or else it perhaps had gypsum applied. Gypsum is a soil amendment that is picking up in popularity in various areas of the country. It's touted for helping water to move into the soil more easily and more quickly, and for supplying sulfur.

Ready to spread: Piles of lime, gypsum and even fertilizer dotting the countryside this fall indicate investments for next year's crop.

Whichever product was applied, it had not been worked into the surface, at least not yet. Those who apply lime often follow with a pass to incorporate it, unless it's a no-till field. Incorporation mixes the lime into the soil allowing it to react with the acid and raise the pH. This method is faster than allowing it to seep into the soil over time via rain or other natural means.

It wasn't possible to tell how uniform this application was with a windshield survey, but it did appear that the product had been spread over the entire field. Sometimes with lime, custom applicators with variable rate capability may not apply lime in certain areas of the pH level there is as high as the producer or agronomist wants it already. Or they may apply lime, but at a reduced rate.

This field is a reminder that now is an excellent time to apply lime. If you don't have a recent soil test, a spoil test is recommended before applying lime. The higher the rate, the more you may want to consider applying some lime now and some again next year. That often applies if the rate recommended is high – 6 tons per acre, agronomists say.

Finer lime will react with the soil more quickly. How fine your lime is may depend on the quarry where the hauler is getting the lime. Location of the quarry may also determine if it's high calcitic or dolomitic lime. Which means it's higher in magnesium than regular lime. Ask these questions before you have lime applied.

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