SHEEP 2018: Are you spreading enough lime and what are the benefits?

Delegates at today’s SHEEP 2018 event in Teagasc Athenry heard that lime is key for maintaining soil fertility and grass production. Despite this, 65% of all Irish soils are deficient in this nutrient.

Teagasc’s Mark Plunkett – a soil and plant nutrition specialist – highlighted the benefits that can be achieved by using lime to bring the soil pH up to the target of 6.3-6.5 on mineral soils.

It’s the most underutilised and the most cost-effective nutrient in Ireland. It costs approximately €20-25/t and farmers can increase grass production massively just by getting the pH right.

Research from Moorepark and Johnstown Castle indicates that by increasing soil pH from 5.2 to 6.4 – and using only lime – an average grass production response of 1t/ha was achieved. This is worth €105/t.

Benefits of correcting soil pH through liming:
  • Release of soil nitrogen (N) for early grass growth (up to 80kg/ha/year);
  • Increase the availability of soil phosphorous (P) and potassium (K);
  • Grow an extra 1.5t/ha (dry matter) of grass annually;
  • Return on a €100 investment in lime is at least €600 in extra forage.

Lime can be spread at anytime throughout the year and livestock can graze pastures once it has been washed off the herbage.