May 27, 2024

The importance of the impact of agricultural lime on crop health

The importance of the impact of agricultural lime on crop health

What is agricultural lime?

Agricultural lime, also known as ag lime, is a soil amendment made from crushed limestone or dolomite used to increase soil pH levels and reduce soil acidity. The use of agricultural lime has been a common practice in agriculture for many years, as it can improve soil structure, increase nutrient availability, and ultimately improve crop health and yield.

Soil acidity can be a major limiting factor for plant growth and productivity. Most crops prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH range between 6.0 to 7.5. When the soil becomes too acidic, nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium become less available to plants, and certain toxic elements like aluminium and manganese can become more soluble and can accumulate to toxic levels. This can lead to stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, and reduced yields.

Agricultural lime can help to neutralise soil acidity by releasing calcium and magnesium ions that replace the hydrogen and aluminium ions responsible for soil acidity. This results in an increase in soil pH levels, which in turn can increase nutrient availability, reduce the solubility of toxic elements, and promote healthy plant growth.

In addition to its pH-adjusting properties, agricultural lime can also improve soil structure by increasing soil aggregation, which promotes better water infiltration and aeration.

Agricultural lime is often applied to fields prior to planting crops like corn, soybeans, cotton, and peanuts. The amount of lime required can vary depending on the initial soil pH and the target pH, as well as the crop being grown and the nutrient requirements of that crop.

In addition to its effects on soil pH and structure, agricultural lime can also have a direct impact on plant health. For example, calcium is an important nutrient for plant growth and is involved in cell wall formation, enzyme activation, and the regulation of plant growth hormones. When soil calcium levels are low, plants can suffer from a variety of disorders such as blossom-end rot in tomatoes and peppers, bitter-pit in apples, and blackheart in celery.

In some cases, agricultural lime may also be used to address specific nutrient deficiencies in soils. For example, dolomitic lime contains both calcium and magnesium and can be used to correct magnesium deficiencies in soils. Similarly, high-calcium lime can be used to correct calcium deficiencies.

It is important to note, however, that the use of agricultural lime is not a one-size-fits-all solution for crop production. The optimal soil pH and nutrient levels for a given crop can vary depending on factors such as the crop species, soil type, and climate. Over-application of agricultural lime can lead to excessively high soil pH levels, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and can even result in toxicities of certain elements like molybdenum and boron.

Agricultural lime remains the most valuable tool for improving soil health and promoting healthy plant growth. By neutralising soil acidity and increasing soil pH levels, agricultural lime can improve nutrient availability and reduce the solubility of toxic elements, resulting in healthier plants and higher yields.


 Lime Sales: Lime, Gypsum and Aggregates 

Our Bridgetown Dolomite Mine in Moorreesburg has supplied over 3 million tons of metallurgical dolomite to date, as well as crushed and sold over 750 000 tons of agricultural lime since 1988.

Lime Sales offers a variety of products used in both the construction and civil construction industries, as well as in the agricultural sector. The dolomite-based products are mined and processed at Bridgetown, with the other products mined elsewhere and processed at the Bridgetown plant.

We are committed to producing products that meet the needs of our customers and accepted specifications.


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