Our Organisation Search
Quick Links
Toggle: Topics

Get lime out now to reduce expensive fertiliser demands in 2023

Get lime out now to reduce expensive fertiliser demands in 2023

Liming of our soils continues to be a challenge with a 10 to 13% decline in samples with optimal soil pH on dairy, tillage and drystock farms sampled in 2021. Mark Plunkett, Teagasc Soil & Plant Nutrition Specialist emphasises the benefits of lime and why farmers should apply lime now

Liming of our soils continues to be a challenge with a 10 to 13% decline in samples with optimal soil pH on dairy, tillage and dry stock farms sampled in 2021. Teagasc soil results from 2021 shows that the 47% of dairy farms had soil pH below the optimum of pH 6.2. In other enterprises soil pH was below optimum in 53% (dry stock) and 39% (tillage farms) of soil samples taken. This shows that there is still a large requirement for lime on Irish farms.

See more on Soil Fertility from Teagasc at Soil Analysis

What liming does


Liming increases soil pH. Increasing soil pH (where appropriate) reduces nitrogen fertiliser requirements (releases up to 80kgN/ha/yr), improves clover establishment and improves nutrient use efficiency (+80%). Optimal soil pH has also been shown to directly reduce N2O emissions from fertiliser.


Improving soil fertility needs to be prioritised going into this winter, to improve clover establishment and reduce expensive fertiliser demands in 2023.


Knowing the correct pH for your soil 


Lime is a soil conditioner and controls soil acidity by neutralising the acids generated from N fertiliser and slurry applications and following high rainfall. Soil pH has a large influence on soil nutrient availability. Aim to maintain mineral soils in the pH range 6.3 - 7.0 and peat soil in the pH range 5.5 - 5.8 to maximise nutrient supply. Maintain tillage soils in the optimum pH (6.5 to 7.0) range for efficient nutrient availability over the growing season and sufficient crop uptake of plant nutrients.

Changes in timing of lime applications is required

Traditionally, the back end of the year i.e. October, November and December, was the main period for applying lime.  On average, over the last 5 years, these months have been the wettest, as 30% of our annual rainfall comes at this time of the year. Waiting until the late season to apply lime will generally result poorer and less trafficable soil conditions and the opportunity to apply lime could be missed.  Therefore, aim to apply lime earlier in the year when soil and weather condition are move favourable.  We can capitalise the benefits of liming to use N more efficiently and to help reduce the total farm N requirements, while at the same time protecting the environment.

Get the Facts on Lime & Take Every Opportunity

When it comes to applying lime we must take every opportunity during the growing season.  Lime can be spread any day of the year provided soil and weather conditions are suitable. 

Why not seize the opportunity to lime now in the current good weather spell!

The new factsheet on lime answers a number of the common questions / myths when it comes to applying ground limestone to Irish soils. Download the PDF here 

Using lime is a win win for the farmer, for the environment, your soil and your pocket! Don't delay and get liming today.

Read Get the Facts on Applying Lime which answers all your questions. 

You can view the Teagasc Advice on Liming Leaflet for grassland here and view the Advice on Liming for Tillage Crops here

If you have further queries you can talk to your Teagasc advisor.  Find your local Teagasc office here


Find out more information and advice from the Teagasc Crops team here. The Teagasc Crops Specialists issue an article on a topic of interest to tillage farmers every Thursday on Teagasc Daily.

Find out more on grass from the Teagasc Grass10 team.  |  Sign up for weekly grass 10 newsletter