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What is Agricultural Lime and How Does It Impact Soil Health?

soil health and limestone | norcal ag service serving northern and central california

Chances are that the soil in your field or garden will become acidic over time due to several factors, including decomposition of organic material and erosion. Limestone raises the pH level to a neutral range beneficial to plants, typically between 5.5 and 6.5.

If the pH is acidic and below 5.5, or if the pH is alkaline and above 6.5, this will create a nutrient deficiency in your plants. You can improve the nutritional quality of your crops by using limestone in the recommended amount.

The proper PH balance of soil is a matter of major importance when it comes to the world of agriculture. The level of PH that plants are exposed to impacts the extent to which they are able to ingest nutrients, receive water, and ultimately, grow.

Too much PH or too little and those abilities are sharply inhibited. The need itself is straightforward: those in agriculture must be mindful of their soil conditions if they are to enjoy large yields of healthy crops. Overly acidic soil can sharply inhibit the growth of your plants, having a negative impact both on overall yields, and eventual profits.

But how can you successfully restore a proper PH balance to your soil? The solution is soil additives. There are two options for this means of mitigation: agricultural lime (aglime) or gypsum.

Agricultural lime is made, as the name suggests, of crushed limestone. It has many benefits on the overall health of the soil which we will enumerate on in the paragraphs to come.

Read on for information on the relationship between aglime and plant nutrition!

What is Agricultural Lime?

The pulverized limestone that constitutes agricultural lime is an organic matter that neutralizes soil acidity.

The primary chemical element active in agricultural lime is calcium carbonate though other active elements may vary from source to source.

Similar to traditional agricultural lime there is dolomite lime. The idea behind this solution is the same—to maintain neutral acidic levels within the soil. However, there is a difference in the chemical make up of dolomite lime that separates it from ag lime.

Dolomitic limestone features the addition of magnesium carbonate. Because of this factor, dolomite is often used in areas that are particularly magnesium deficient to better serve in the rejuvenation of PH deficient soil.

Why does soil erode and deteriorate this way in the first place? It’s a natural process that occurs over time. Wind, rain, and tilling are all factors that contribute to the degradation of soil quality.

Because erosion is such a naturally occurring process, vigilance and proper mitigation efforts are necessary to ensuring consistently high-quality soil.

Impacts of Agricultural Lime on Soil

The objective of agricultural lime on soil is to raise the PH level, thereby decreasing the acid present in it. By increasing the alkaline level and mitigating acid the soil has a better chance of producing vibrant crops.

Just how significant is the impact of acid on plant growth? Greater than one might imagine. The reduction of nutrient absorption caused by acid sharply limits the extent to which a plant can grow. In fact, too much acid can even lead to unbearable toxicity levels in the soil which can be fatal to plants.

That’s not all, however. There are a number of other liming applications to keep in mind.

It provides a source of calcium and magnesium for plants

Calcium and magnesium are both naturally occurring components of agricultural lime. As a result, your plants get increased access to these chemicals when aglime is used as a soil additive.

Magnesium is a critical element of enzyme production within plants. In fact, many key enzymes that plants need for growth cannot be created without access to magnesium making it a critical resource for any crop.

Calcium, on the other hand, is critical to the growth of cell walls within plants. Why does this matter? The cell wall, among other things, will help to improve the nutrient absorption of the plant.

It permits improved water penetration for acidic soils

As soil erodes and becomes more acidic, it has the tendency to harden and effectively serve as a dried out, compacted crust.

When this process occurs, it becomes very difficult for water to penetrate past the outer layer of the soil.

This effectively means that the roots of your plants are being starved of water. The extent to which this is the case varies on a situational basis, but regardless soil that drains poorly does not serve your needs to nearly the extent as soil that drains well.

Why? Because when plants cannot access the necessary amount of water, their growth is stunted. In some cases, the plant may not even be able to survive.

With the introduction of lime, the soil behaves more efficiently allowing your plants to have easier access to water.

The improvement to the soil texture is largely the byproduct of calcium in the limestone. The calcium serves to separate the clay molecules thus making them less restrictive. The loosened structure of the soil is then able to receive water at an improved rate.

It improves the uptake of major plant nutrients

The final benefit of agricultural lime on soil is that it simply gives your plants access to more of the things they need. More carbon dioxide, more nitrogen, more phosphorus, more potassium.

Agricultural lime works particularly well in cooperation with fertilizer. In fact, liming soil is a standard element of best practice when it comes to fertilizing.

Acidic soil that has been exposed to lime will be more fertile giving your plants a natural boost in their ability to grow and thrive.   

Why You Need Limestone

Agricultural lime accomplishes a great deal. From mitigating the harmful effects of soil erosion and toxic acidity levels to assisting in critical nutrient absorption, there are few easier ways to give your crops a healthy boost.

When it comes to agricultural lime for PH control the question is not if, but which. Quality counts when it comes to the materials used to treat your plants so invest in agricultural lime that you can trust.

Any More Questions? Contact Us

At Norcal AG Services we are experts when it comes to all things agricultural. We handle a diverse range of needs with one common objective in mind each time: to give our clients and customers the exact help that they need.

Contact us today for a free quote, and assistance in choosing the right solution for your needs.

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