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Advice on Liming

Factsheet 2

Download as a pdf  Advice on Liming

The benefits of liming

  • Release of soil nitrogen (N) for early grass growth (up to 80 kg N/ha, 64 units/ac per year)
  • Increase the availability of soil phosphorus (P) and potassium (K)
  • Grow an extra 1.5 t grass dry matter (DM)/ha annually

Target soil pH for different crops 

Crop typeTarget soil pH
Grassland (mineral soils) grass only swards ≥ 6.3
Grassland (mineral soils) with clover 6.8 to 7.0
Grassland (peat soils) 5.5 to 5.8
Cereals ≥ 6.5
Beet/Beans/Peas/Oilseed/Maize 6.8 to 7.0
High molybdenum (Mo) soils 6.0 to 6.2

Return on investment (ROI) from ground limestone use

Research shows an average grass production response of ~1.5 t DM/ha from lime alone This is worth ca. €181/t DM on a dairy farm and €105/t DM on a drystock farm

An investment of €27/ha to maintain soil pH in the optimum and returns €150/ha This represents a return of €6 – 10 for every €1 invested in lime.  

Advice on spreading lime

How much?

Test soils on a regular basis (every three to five years) to determine lime requirements Only apply lime based on a recent soil test report. Don’t exceed 7.5 t/ha in a single application


Prepare a farm liming plan. This will identify where lime is needed, and when and at what rate lime should be applied

Lime can be spread all year round. Having a lime plan in place will open up opportunities to get lime applied over the year when conditions are suitable and land is available

How Often?

  • Apply lime often as per the soil test report
  • On very acidic soils apply 50% now and the remainder in two years’ time
  • Apply lime to 20% of the farm annually

Which lime to use?

Calcium ground limestone is most common - Fast acting (<3 months) and rapid pH adjustment.
Magnesium (dolomitic) ground limestone is available - Somewhat slower to react but higher liming value Granulated limes
Finer lime (less than 0.1mm particle size) and very reactive - Apply as maintenance product when soil pH >6.0

Lime and high molybdenum soils

Soils with high Mo status may give rise to copper deficiency in grazing animals Increasing soil pH >6.2 increases Mo availability.To reduce elevated Mo levels maintain a somewhat lower soil pH 6.0 to 6.2

Lime & slurry/urea

The type of N in slurry and urea is ammonical N and prone to loss if applied to freshly limed soils. To avoid N loss the following is recommended:

  • Leave seven days between applying urea or slurry before applying lime
  • Leave three months between applying lime and following with urea or slurry application
  • No interval required between liming and protected urea