Why is it important to spread lime on soil? What’s the purpose?
Lime controls the pH level, which means it modifies the soil’s acidity. In fact, the soil has a natural tendency to become acidic, which reduces yields. More than just a way to increase the pH, lime involves the uptake of calcium or calcium-magnesium components that encourage fertilizer absorption by plants. Therefore, this supports crop growth, all the while improving the structure and stability of the soil. Lime maintains or intensifies microbial activity and prevents weeds, which like acidic soil, from growing. In this way lime controls and improves the soil’s fertility. Therefore, thanks to its impact on soil fertility and on the plants’ capacity for absorption, lime can increase crop yields.
How often should I apply lime?
In general, lime should be applied every two to three years, at the beginning of spring, or in the summer and in the fall after harvest. However, the frequency will depend on the state of your soil. If losses in calcium due to leaching and crop removal are minimal or slightly raised, the amounts lost can be replaced every 3 to 4 years. If the soil is more acidic, the pH level will need to be corrected by applying more lime. This second situation requires several lime applications spread out over several years in order to limit the losses related to leaching and to not disturb the soil too much.
What crops need lime?
All crops need lime but in different amounts. For crops tolerant of acidic soils, a lower rate can be applied compared to crops less tolerant of acidity. Here are some examples:
- Potatoes, rye and oats are very tolerant of acid soil, which requires the pH to be around 6;
- Corn and wheat are neutral, the soil must be neither acidic nor alkaline;
- Alfalfa and beans do not tolerate acidity, which means the soil must be kept at a pH of 7 or above.
pH, what is it?
pH is an indicator of soil acidity. Crops can tolerate more or less acidity, which is why it is important to control the pH level. There is not really an optimum pH level but, in a general sense, it is usually best to maintain the pH level a little under neutral (around 6.5). Soil is classified as acidic when its pH is between 4 and 6, is considered neutral at around 7 and is deemed alkaline above 7.5.
What indicators are taken into account to assess the need for lime?
Three principal indicators are taken into consideration:
- The pH of the soil;
- The state of calcium reserves in the soil;
- Total calcic content.
What is the advantage of spreading lime at variable rates?
Spreading lime at variable rates, contrary to a fixed rate, allows different amounts of lime to be applied on each section of a field. In fact, the soil of a same field can have different pH levels or calcium content and thus have different requirements. Therefore, the quantities need to be adjusted according to the needs of each zone. This technique is made possible thanks to the use of a GPS for point sampling as well as for lime application. Thus, spreading lime at variable rates enables an optimum rate to be applied at each point in each field.
What type of recommendations do our agronomists make for applying lime?
Our agronomists provide recommendations on the amounts of lime to apply, but also on the type of lime as well as on the specific product to apply. On the other hand, they create an audit report on your soil, summarizing all the elements present in the soil and the soil index. It is, therefore, a complete measurement of the actual quality of your soil along with recommendations for improvements.
Which spreading regulators are compatible with our GPS?
Our GPS is compatible with all spreading regulators that you or your custom spreading operator might use.
Does the lime spreading service take a long time?
No, the processing times are very short. You should only have to wait a few days between receiving the results of the soil tests and the preparation of the data for spreading lime.
How are my yields going to increase by spreading lime?
Spreading lime improves the absorption of inputs by the plants and increases the soil’s fertility by controlling the pH level. This is therefore a simple way to increase your yields by maximizing your chances of having a good harvest!