How Often Should You Apply Lime?
Every day, you as producers are faced with hundreds, if not thousands of decisions when running their operations. One decision that’s probably not top of mind every day is how often to apply ag lime to correct you pH. The answer is, it depends. Depends on what, you ask? That’s something we can help you with.
If you’ve spent any time around us, you’ve heard us say that it all starts with your soil test. You have to know where you are before you can make these types of decisions. If your pH is relatively neutral (5.5 or above), applying a single, lower-rate lime prescription may suit your needs for the next 4-5 years or more. However, if you have really acidic soil (5.2 or below), you may need to apply a high rate, and/or break those applications up into a couple of different cropping seasons. That could be done for a couple of reasons. One, so you don’t “shock” the system too much by introducing too much of a good thing at once. The second reason producers might break it up is so they reduce the risk of possible erosion of the product before the lime can be effective. This could be a larger factor in a no-till environment. The last main reason producers we work with elect to break up the applications is so they don’t wreck their budgets trying to correct a large issue in a single cropping season.
Speaking of budgets, we work with producers every day who are trying to make ends meet just like we do. We thrive on helping develop a plan that works for everyone. Many producers amortize the cost of a lime application across five years so it doesn’t skew any one particular crop. This makes sense because in most cases, you are receiving some benefit of the lime for those five years. However, you still need to account for the cash outlay at the time of application. This is where it might make sense to split that application in half and apply in consecutive years to correct the issue.
So, you applied lime a few years ago and you’re not sure what your soil’s current pH is now? Part of the grid sampling process is designed to be repeatable for spot checks and comparisons. On our farm, we’ll sample a field every three to four years for that very reason. We want to make sure our fertilizer usage is efficient and we’re not mining the soil. Additionally, that time span is perfect for checking to see if your lime application has had an effect. Many times, we find that some of the “hot spots” where the pH was particularly low before need some additional lime applied, but it’s far less than the original treatment.
At the end of the day, every operation needs to do what works best for them. We hope this has given you some things to think about and some hard, fast rules to remember when determining how often to apply lime to your fields.
If you’re ready to work with us at Triple Threat Ag, call and book an appointment with us today: (620) 456-2839