Benefits of Agricultural Lime
Lime has been proven to increase farm profits and sustainability by decreasing soil degradation. Agricultural lime has always been a stalwart of fertilisers and soil conditioning products. Long known for its ability to reduce soil acidity (increase pH) and repair non-wetting soils. It is only now coming into view that the type of lime used, whether it be lime sand, lime stone or coral lime, can make a sizeable difference in the speed and efficacy of its effect on the soil.
The three basic types of Agricultural lime can be loosely classified as follows:
- Lime sand is a lime product that needs very little processing due to its already fine nature. However as a sand it is still not highly soluble as can be seen by placing a little of the lime sand in a glass of water, mixing it up and waiting for it to settle to see how much of the substance has actually dissolved into the solution of water, and the depth of the fine layer that settles to the top of sample.
- Chalk lime is a very loose way to describe the lime in question as it is not completely chalk and often contains small pockets of limestone and lime clays. The deposit is blended to produce a lime product with a high Calcium Carbonate content and is also highly soluble, in part owing to the existence of pockets of pure Calcium Carbonate (the chalk bit) which when crushed and screened is almost instantly dissolved into water. The chalk lime as a whole is readily dissolved by standard drinking water and as such yields the fastest and biggest results in terms of conditioning soil.
- Limestone is as suggests Calcium Carbonate in rock form and as such is very hard and takes time to dissolve and be usable in the soil. The crushed lime stone product sold for use as a soil conditioning product is very high in Calcium Carbonate but due to its hardness will take time to produce results.
The chalk lime we produce at our quarry on Homestead Road Manypeaks has often been described as a clay lime. This is in part true as clay can be described as “a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine grained minerals, which is generally plastic at appropriate water contents”. Thus the ability of our product to be soluble enough to form a clay like substance after the application of a small amount of water shows it’s superiority in how quick your soil will have access to the Calcium Carbonate in the product.
By improving the balance of critical nutrients and moderating soil acidity, natural lime fertiliser ensures that your yields will be not only bigger, but will be qualitatively improved as well. Crops will taste better and feed produced from these crops will result in healthier livestock.
The following are a few of the benefits you will gain by adding agricultural lime to acidic soils.
- Calcium is an important constituent of cell wall material, adding strength and stability to the plant. Calcium deficiency causes stunted growth .
- Lime corrects acidification. Soil acidification is part of Australia's land degradation problem. As far back as 1989, the CSIRO estimated that soil acidification was costing Australia more than $300 million per year in reduced crop production.
- Adequate levels of lime in the soil will reduce Aluminium and Manganese toxicities. The lower the soil pH, the more readily these toxic elements are released into the soil to adversely affect the health of growing plants.
- Fertiliser efficiency is improved when agricultural lime is added to acid soils. Liming acid soils will increase the uptake of nitrogen, phosphate, potash, sulphur, calcium, magnesium, boron, copper, zinc and molybdenum.
- Beneficial soil bacteria are generally more prevalent in the sweet alkaline soils rather than acid soils.
- Agricultural lime improves soil structure and promotes worm activity. The addition of lime to most soils will improve their friability, thus reducing crusting and clodding of heavy soils.
- The composting of organic matter in the soil is significantly improved, thus contributing to good soil composition and less need for ongoing tillage.
- Reduces the need for costly and potentially toxic chemical fertilisers and completes an eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable approach, and complies with all requirements for ‘organic’ labeling.
In sandy loam, the approximate amount of lime required to raise the pH of your ground to a depth of 600mm (2ft) by one pH unit (eg. to go from 6.5 to 7.5) would be 1.5 to 2.0 tonnes per hectare.
In heavier clay soils, you will probably need at least twice as much lime to raise the pH level by one unit.
Lime is relatively inexpensive and used effectively, your investment will bring excellent returns over many years.
The above information should only be used as a guide and for the best results we recommend the testing of your soil and the matching of those tests to the particular crop you wish to cultivate.