Creating and maintaining the proper growing conditions for plant life can be a bit challenging. In order for vegetation to grow and thrive, specific pH balances must be achieved and the correct amount of nutrients, moisture and sunlight must be able to come into contact with the soil.
But while ensuring that your lawn, garden and/or crops are properly exposed to light and water may fall under your direct control, achieving the right soil conditions can be more difficult. Instead of introducing dozens of chemicals into the earth, many farmers and homeowners choose to utilize agricultural lime (or ag lime).
Although it works in a different way than other fertilizers, ag lime can impart numerous positive benefits upon your soil both on its own and when used in conjunction with other products. Not sure if ag lime is the right fertilizing solution for your needs? Read on to learn more about this versatile and highly useful material.
What Is Ag Lime
Agricultural lime is simply limestone that has been carefully crushed down to the proper size for use with soil. Although it’s frequently used for lager-scale agricultural applications, the material is also extremely useful for residential and commercial lawns, as well as for smaller home gardens. For use as a fertilizing material, ag lime should be washed and screened through a sand plant.
Positive Impacts of Ag Lime on Soil
You may wonder why anyone bothers with agricultural lime when there are so many other fertilizing products on the market. Interestingly enough, the material actually offers more benefits to the earth than many chemically engineered compounds on the market. Some of the key advantages to using ag lime include:
- pH Balance – After years of exposure to fertilizers, chemicals, heavy acidic rain fall and constant crop turnover, many fields, gardens and landscaping features end up with higher-than-desirable pH levels. When introduced to the soil, agricultural lime can actually lower the overall acidity of the earth. This creates healthier growing conditions for plant life.
- Lowered Toxicity – In addition to restoring the pH balance of soil to almost neutral, agricultural lime is also able to reduce the toxicity of manganese and the amount of aluminum that may be present in the earth. This works to effectively promote good soil microbe activity and improve soil structure overall.
- Plant Nutrients – Another common problem with soil is that, with the passage of time, valuable nutrients are depleted and it becomes increasingly difficult for plants to obtain the “food” that they need to grow properly. Ag lime does two things to remedy this issue. First, it adds nutrients into the soil, such as calcium and phosphorous. Secondly, the material makes it simpler for plants to absorb important nutrients that may already be present.
- Long-Term Results -It’s important to be aware that, unlike chemically formulated fertilizer products, agricultural lime may not promote improved plant growth quite as quickly. While its slower reaction time may seem like a drawback, it actually isn’t. This is because the long-term effects are much more significant. After being limed, soil will remain in-balance for years, meaning that fewer applications are required.
Proper Application of Ag Lime
In order for growers and property owners to get the most benefit from agricultural lime, certain application guidelines should be considered:
- Particle Size – The size and fineness of ground limestone makes a big difference on its ability to improve soil conditions. The smaller the particles are, the easier it is for the carbonates to react with the acids, and the faster soil will be restored to optimum health.
- Chemistry – When purchasing agricultural limestone, you should look at the calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) and the total neutralizing value (TNV) as this will compare the chemistry of the lime at a particular quarry against the neutralizing capabilities of pure calcium carbonate.
- Plant Type – Keep in mind that certain vegetables and other plants may have different soil balance requirements. If you’re unsure, you should speak with a professional to ensure that you don’t over or under-lime.
- Required Volume – Utilizing too much ag lime could actually be just as detrimental to plant life as not using enough. Always be careful to apply only that which is needed.
- Spreading Consistency – It’s extremely important that agricultural lime is spread evenly and consistently across the desired coverage area. It should be broadcast on the soil’s surface. To avoid the possibility of the material being blown around, use as a fertilizer when wind speeds are less than 10mph.
Using Ag Lime With Other Fertilizing Products
It’s true that agricultural lime is often used to correct the effects of long-term fertilizer usage and frequently used soil. At the same time, though, the material can actually be used in conjunction with these other products to actually improve growing conditions. Because the material improves plant nutrient uptake, ag lime can boost the efficiency and effectiveness of other fertilizers by as much as 50%. As long as the proper application techniques are followed, the combination of agricultural limestone and additional products can yield healthy and bountiful vegetation.
Do you still have questions about using ag lime as a fertilizer? The experts here at Braen Stone are more than qualified to provide you with useful answers and advice. Our agricultural lime is available at competitive wholesale rates. Pick up your materials at your convenience or have them bulk delivered to locations in NJ, NY, PA and CT.