Monday, October 11, 2010

Lime Questions

JFBW always challenges my thinking. He has raised some questions on my recent blogs on liming our new farm. He threw in that word HERE which farmers have debated about on AgTalk since its inception. A farmer will post his opinion and the response is it only works THERE, not HERE.

I take all that for granted and post what I think. I don't apologize if my posts don't work THERE. They work HERE. You have to figure out what works THERE because I am talking about HERE.

Take notilling for example. That only works THERE, not HERE. Liming soil is another one, well that only works THERE. But you have to figure it out!

It is a Universal Truth that liming soil works wherever the soil is too acid to give up the nutrients to the chosen crop that needs those nutrients and that pH, that soil nutrient balance for maximum growth. That means income to me.

I even cited the worn out farm south of us that produced 20 more bushels soybeans this year over it's best production in the past. No farmer wants to lose that much production and it is like WOW when you find it! The best part is lime is the cheapest input we have because they sell on tonnage, usually for roads in mass quantities, not pound of nutrient that is in that crushed stone.

Even my smart wife asked, why did you spend all that money on gravel? Huh? I told you we were were liming the new farm. I thought you were building a driveway, it says Hanson Aggregates on the check.

Honey, ag lime is stone crushed finer for soils instead of chunks for driveways. OK, I missed that point. They call it Ag Meal which is crushed to powder for soil absorption. Farmers also need to study the grade and try to figure out how quickly those powders and chunks will be absorbed.

So I keep soil testing and tissue testing and watching how the crop performs!

JFBW doesn't have to be concerned about calcium content like I do. His soil has too much calcium, mine has too little. Most of the soils I have tested from the Atlantic to Iowa needs to look at calcium. Some just look for pH but that is just a snapshot in time and soil moisture and a bunch of different conditions affect how pH ranges in one soil in one year. Mine is not constant, others are more constant.

" Allow me to modify the statement in your Blog.

Effect of pH on the Yield Potential of Crops. Most crops achieve optimum yields when grown in soils which are slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. HERE, Regular application of aglime is the best way to achieve and maintain the ideal pH.

HERE, Aglime Helps Improve Fertilizer Efficiency.

I will grant those two sentences are true for most farms, just not Universal Truths.

Now for the Question: My ignorance shows!

How high will pure Calcium Carbonate push the pH? I have long believed it was in the range of 8.0 to 8.3.

If that is really true and the pH of your lime is a 9 pH would this indicate your lime has enough Magnesium or Sodium or both to bring the Lime up to a 9 pH? (Bill, I don't know the actual pH, I was citing an example. I doubt you know the actual pH of yours either. These are talking points)

Will the 2 tons of aglime bring the pH up to your goal? Possibly 2 tons is part science and part cut and try. As my Son In Law puts it, Cut to approximate and beat to fit. (That's it, that is what I am talking about.)

If your crops are usually 0.8% Ca and 0.25% Mg, is there a point where your crop would benefit from a product higher or lower in magnesium?

Will more than 2 tons of aglime depress the uptake of potassium? magnesium? possibly sodium also?

Needing lime was something my Grandfather and Father talked of for Pennsylvania. HERE, people have unsuccessfully attempted to lower the pH. Oh a ton of Anhydrous will temporarily have the soil testing acid but in a few months the pH will be right back where it started. We have transplants with a burning desire to grow blueberries or azaleas.

Possibly grist for your Blog?

Soils are interesting.


Yes Bill, you are THERE and many of us are HERE. Part of the Midwest really needs to look at soil calcium.
You do bring up a good point about using some magnesium. Lime with more magnesium is better than no lime and can increase corn and wheat production in some cases. This where I rely on the soil test and mine tells me I don't magnesium as much as I need calcium. So I chose a lime souce high in calcium and low in magnesium. You could be correct, though, about that and the actual pH of my lime source. I used raw numbers.

Gee, I really wanted to talk about our grand kids today. We spent some time with three of them in the last week and of course it was GREAT! I have some good, new stories to write but my mind has been on crop production when they aren't here. But, pretty soon, number eight will be born and I will be talking about them again.


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