Aglime for your fields  ( 9/4/2015 )
By  Mike Gross , IMI Aggregates, Swayzee, Indiana

Applying agricultural limestone to your fields is the natural way of boosting pH levels of the soil. Cultivated and fertilized soil naturally progress towards low pH levels acidic soils. Acidic soils will have a negative impact on the effectiveness of fertilizers and weed control causing reduced yields. Studies have shown that when the pH of soil drops to 6.0, up to 20% of the applied fertilizer is ineffective a pH of 5.0 up to 54% of fertilizer is wasted. Also noxious weeds grow best in low pH acidic soils. Soil testing data indicates at least 28% of Indiana&rsquos farm acreage is below a pH of 6.0. An ideal soil pH of 7.0 neutral maximizes the growth of bacteria necessary to break down fertilizer into a form that plants can absorb. When you apply aglime, you are raising the pH levels and creating a soil where corn, soybeans, wheat, and legumes can thrive.

Lime study

Beck&rsquos Hybrids did a study several years ago. During a nine year period of time, they applied varying amounts of high calcium lime to fields and measured yields. They also had control fields where no aglime was introduced into the soil. In the spring of 1993, the aglime was placed at 10 tons, 5 tons or 0 tons per acre TPA and planted with corn. The following spring, additional fields were placed with aglime at a rate of 5 tons, 3 tons and 0 TPA and planted with soybeans. Crops were rotated every year. Two years after introduction of the high calcium lime and for the next seven years, yields for soybeans in the limed areas averaged 5.0 bushels per acre Bu/A over the no-lime yields. Corn averaged 22.0 Bu/A over the no-lime yields. In addition, plant height, pod height and stock strength all increased in the limed fields.

Nutrients and Size

There are a couple of additional things to remember when you are introducing aglime into your fields. First, what nutrients do you need to re-introduce into your soil? Secondly, what size do you need? Let&rsquos take the nutrient question first. IMI produces both high calcium and dolomitic aglime. As the name implies, high cal aglime has a high level of calcium containing little or no magnesium whereas dolomitic aglime is a mixture of calcium and magnesium. The proportions of these nutrients will vary from one source to another. Calcitic lime tends to have a greater impact on improving the tilth of the soil and increasing the effectiveness of bacteria responsible for the conversion of nitrogen for plant uptake. However, if you need to increase your magnesium levels, dolomitic aglime is a cost effective choice. Both effectively reduce soil acidity and are essential in crop production. Have your soils tested regularly and apply the correct aglime as needed.

The particle size of the aglime will also have an impact on your soil. The smaller the pebble size, the quicker impact it will have on reducing the soils&rsquo acidity. All aglime particles passing through a 60 mesh screen are 100% effective in the first year. Particles passing a 100 mesh are effective within the first month. Keep this in mind when you are ordering aglime for your field.

If you are looking for a way to increase your crop yields, take a closer look at how aglime can make a long term impact on your soil. For more information on where IMI aglime is available, click here.

If you need more information on aglime either high cal or high mag, contact Mike Gross. Click here.