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Time for Lime

What is all the fuss about lime? Why do people constantly recommend that you need to get the lime status of your land right? Well it’s because lime is a fantastic fertiliser. Dairy specialist Stuart Childs has some advice and guidance.

Time for Lime

Tillage farmers really know the benefit of lime as they see the immediate impact of incorrect soil pH in crops yields. This drop in yield happens in grassland too but because the crop isn’t harvested in one take, it can be overlooked.

Applying Lime

  • Improves availability of phosphorus and potassium
  • Improves biological activity which will in turn improve nutrient supply from soil organic matter
  • Increases earthworm activity which will improve soil structure, aeration and drainage capacity
  • Increases the persistency and competitiveness of productive species within the sward helping to reduce weeds
  • Increases the supply of both calcium and magnesium for grass and livestock 
  • Releases N from the soil equivalent to 50-60 units/acre per year

Lime TillageYet we only spread less than 1/3 of the amount of lime that was spread at the peak time of spreading in the early 80’s. Lime is a forgotten fertiliser, all too often the plan to ‘get the lime out’ in the back end of the year gets undone by Mother Nature. There is no plan B. The question must then be asked why are we waiting?

Lime can be applied at any stage of the year so we should be looking at every opportunity to spread. Right now is one of those opportunities.

Many will be either finished 2nd cut or in the process of completing a 2nd cut now on silage ground. Unless you have plans of taking a 3rd cut from this ground, now is a great opportunity to get lime out. August and September are also good months for getting lime out on grazing ground as rotations extend and ground conditions remain good.

Lime is a really high return investment (€6 for every €1 spent) and available for everyone with no restrictions on how much you want to buy or when you are allowed to apply it, yet it’s a completely underutilised product on Irish farms so to quote the famous Nike advertising campaign, when it comes to lime, ‘Just do it’ and starting getting your soil pH right now.