Soil fertility: How is your farm for lime; or do you know?

The recent dry weather – mixed with some showers of rain – has provided ideal conditions for spreading lime.

Despite improvements being made in terms of lime usage over the last few years, there is still a long way to go before all our soils are at an optimum pH level.

By correcting the soil pH, you are allowing the nutrients in the soil to become more available to the grass plant for uptake.

According to studies conducted by Teagasc where lime is deficient, up to 80% plus of nutrients applied may get locked up in the soil and will not be fully available to grow grass. 

So because of this you are not getting the maximum benefit out of your applied slurry and/or chemical fertiliser that you should be.

By having your soil at the correct pH, you’re eliminating this issue which contributes to an increase in grass production – particularly during the shoulders of the year.

Application

Before applying lime the best place to start is with a soil test. This will help to find out where your farm is in terms of soil pH. After that, a little and often spreading approach is best.

The optimum pH for grassland soils is between 6.3 and 6.5. However, the optimum pH for crops can vary.

When soil tests are completed they should be acted on and the information used effectively.

Soil fertility test results are hugely important when applying fertiliser – or lime – as they provide you with a guide and ensure that you are targeting applications where they are needed most.

Lime can be spread at any time throughout the year. However, slurry/urea should not be applied in the three-month period following lime application; but applying slurry/urea before lime is fine provided seven days are left in between.

For fields that have been cut for silage or recently grazed, now is a great opportunity to target these with lime.

Lime can be priced between €20/t and €25/t, usually with an additional cost for spreading.

Also Read: Lime spreading: How much does it cost?