Agricultural lime is a soil amendment product used to condition soil by raising pH levels. It is made from crushed limestone that contains natural nutrients to promote healthy plant growth. When lime is added to agricultural crops, it dissolves and releases a base that counteracts or neutralizes soil acidity.
Types of Lime for Agricultural Crops :
Agricultural lime comes in several states: oxides, hydroxide, silicate, or carbonate. These are the forms of magnesium or calcium that will neutralize pH levels in the soil. Calcium and magnesium on their own will not neutralize the pH level. Only when they are applied in these forms will they serve the purpose of lowering acidity levels.
Reducing Acidity Levels in Soil :
This pH imbalance can happen for any number of reasons. The soil itself could be naturally higher in these mineral contents, or it could be caused by the types of fertilizers being used. Alternatively, soil can become acidic when the presence of beneficial bacteria found in organic matter dwindles and there isn't enough microbial activity in the soil. Whatever the case may be, acidic soil is generally a nutrient imbalance or deficiency that prevents healthy plant growth. When soil becomes too acidic, it makes it very difficult for plant roots to grow. In fact, acidic soil can stunt root growth altogether, which prevents plant development. Plant roots aren't able to take up nutrients effectively, which lowers the overall health level of the crops. In essence, high acidity creates a toxic environment for crops.
Applying Lime to Agricultural Crops :
Once the soil has been tested throughout the field, you can then determine the appropriate amount of lime to use. Certain sections of the soil may be more acidic than others. In this case, a suitable lime application plan must be created in order to avoid over-or undersupplying lime across the field. When applying lime to agricultural crops, it's important to work it into the soil as much as possible. If lime simply resides on the surface, it will take much longer for it to dissolve and then condition the soil. However, this may not apply to crops with roots that feed close to the surface, such as alfalfa, or if a no-till practice is being followed. If you are going to apply lime to your crops, it's best to use crop-specific lime application practices.
Benefits of Lime for Soil :
By applying agricultural lime to crops, you can help to increase the soil's pH level by neutralizing and reducing the levels of manganese and iron that cause soil to become acidic. Lower manganese and iron levels can help to reduce the risk of plants becoming toxic, which helps increase their growth and output rates.
Boosts Microbial Activity :
When soil is too acidic, the beneficial microbes in the soil arent able to thrive. This reduces soil health and the possibility of nutrient uptake in the roots of the crops. The agricultural lime effect on crops allows it to create a better environment to promote microbial activity to improve healthy crop growth.
Improves Plant Structure :
With a balanced pH level in the soil, the crop, especially young plants, can grow stronger overall. This additional strength starts in the roots and works its way up through the complete plant structure. Improved plant structure ensures the crops are healthier and able to yield more.
Provides Calcium and Magnesium :
Agricultural lime actively supplements calcium and/or magnesium levels in the soil. These are essential nutrients for ensuring healthy plant growth. Agricultural lime provides a steady supply of nutrients, which over time ensures the soil is conditioned appropriately for optimum output.