Spreading lime makes all the difference
Having soil sampled his farm in the spring of 2015, Ben Sweeney immediately realised that his soil fertility levels were well below where they should be on his farm near Enfield, Co Meath.
The pH of the farm was very low in many of the fields with results around 5.5 and the majority of his phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) indices were at a low level of index one and two. Land that was previously in maize had a soil index 4 for P and Ks.
The soil sample analysis showed that most fields required between two and five tonnes of lime per acre. The target pH for grassland soils is 6.3 to 6.5 and target index for P and K is index 3.
Ben decided last spring to start addressing the soil fertility issue and he firstly set about correcting his lime status on the farm. Most fields received two tonnes per acre of ground limestone.
This spring and early summer Ben has seen a dramatic improvement in his pastures. Lime is a soil conditioner therefore it corrects soil acidity.
Surface acidity often occurs in the top two inches of soil in our grassland fields due to the high rainfall and the usage of nitrogen fertilisers.
Reducing the acidity of the soil increases the availability of fertilisers from the soil organic matter particularly nitrogen and phosphorus.
It also encourages better earthworm activity, improving the soil structure and promotes the growth of clover.