Spreading lime makes all the difference
Published 29/06/2016 | 02:30
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.
Ben has seen grass growth to be much more vigorous with fields getting going earlier in the spring, the sward appearing a lot greener and healthier.
Sward quality has improved and cattle appear to be a lot more content in paddocks than before.Response to chemical fertiliser has been much greater since the application of lime has gone out.
Ben will apply the remaining lime in 2017, two years after the initial application.