[Market-farming] Lime powder application

Richard Moyer ramoyer at gmail.com
Sun Mar 20 23:00:23 EDT 2011

Do talk with other farmers, and you local ag extension agent for
option.  Folks who spread lime also know about lime sources.  Our
local NRCS guys have been helpful in directing us to Web Soil Survey,
which helped up understand our soil types better, and in helping us
interpret soil test results.

According to our soil tests here in SW VA, we, too, have high Mg
relative to Ca.  In order to address this, we checked with multiple
quarries in our region, finding those working a seam of high calcitic
lime.  The lab for the quarries have this data, and can tell you which
are highest in Ca and esp. lowest in Mg.
2 ton/acre is about what we did, as Bill recommends below.

As for cost, we found our lime free because it was not state-certified
as lime (the quarry didn't want to bother with the state certification
process).  Some local quarries consider it a waste product, some sell
it as 'mine safety dust'.  Now the price is up to 50 cents per ton.
Spreading it costs about $20 per acre here.

After one application of 2 ton per acre, subsequent soil tests a year
later showed pH in proper range, and Ca to Mg ratio approaching or in
desired range as well.  Not to disagree with Bill's comment, but
perhaps our situations are different from his area, and we were able
to find lime so low in Mg that spreading it did improve the Ca to Mg

The agronomists in our area have a saying:  "lime is the cheapest
fertilizer", because getting pH in the proper range helps with
availability of so many other minerals.  So it may be worth it in the
additional forage and yields of other crops.

As for a source of K, consider buying in hay, and feeding your hay in
a manner that both the hay and cattle manure are spread widely and
evenly.  Run the numbers on this and it may be an attractive source of

Richard Moyer

Message: 4
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 10:01:28 -0500 (CDT)
From: Bill Shoemaker <wshoemak at illinois.edu>
To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] lime powder application
Message-ID: <20110320100128.COY63871 at expms6.cites.uiuc.edu>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii

To really make even minimal pH adjustments you need to apply lime in
terms of tons per acre. If you can have someone haul quarried lime
fines to your site, then have someone with a real lime spreader apply
it, bite the bullet and put it one at 2 tons/acre. You can have impact
and not worry about it for a few years. It'll surely be more
economical than purchasing it by the 50 lb bag.

Using dolomitic lime when you already have high Mg sounds like a bad
idea. But we have the same situation. Farmers used to buy lime from
100 miles south because it was calcitic lime. But it turned out the
benefit was minimal, not worth the extra cost. It just didn't change
the ratio of available Mg to K and Ca, even in the long term. The best
way to address high Mg content in soil is to manage K fertility
carefully, applying fresh potash or another K source annually to keep
high levels of available K. You might want to see if you can find a
land-grant soil scientist who know's your region to get some guidance.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2011 06:30:32 -0700
>From: Vern and Amy <vaspencer at sisna.com>
>Subject: Re: [Market-farming] lime powder application
>To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
>    We have about 5 acres of mixed veggies and 50 acres of hay/pasture
>to adjust pH.  I guess I should contact other farmers around here to
>find out how they do it.  The only pelletized lime I have found is
>Dolomite, and I already have plenty of Mg, which I think dolomite adds
>to.  The local farm store doesn't even carry lime, except dolomite.  Our
>area is not very agricultural anymore--not the best place to grow (soil
>and weather).  I might have to check with folks 50 miles out of town.
>Any other input is welcome.  Thanks.

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