Dry lime is a product that is spread on farm fields to neutralize the soil and make it more productive. It is broadcast and needs to be incorporated into the soil to begin working.
Chuck Seifert of Marion uses “fluidized lime” on his 2,300 no-till acres. The lime is purchased through and applied by Ag Services, Inc. of Hillsboro.
Seifert said it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.
“You can’t make money if you don’t spend money,” he said.
Before lime is applied, the soil is tested to determine if or how much lime is needed. The spray rig has a GPS system that allows precision application. Every 2 1/2 acres gets a soil test, and the lime is applied accordingly.
Ag Services president Mike Kleiber said soil becomes acidic with the constant use of fertilizers, and lime neutralizes it. A pH of 6.5 to 7 is desirable.
Kleiber said Seifert’s land has seen a big improvement from the first time the company limed it. At least 12 semi trailer loads were needed to provide the right amount of lime. The soil was retested and retreated not long ago, and only one semi trailer load was needed. The lime was applied precisely as needed.
Ag Services has a contract with the city of Wichita to buy the calcium carbonate that is collected through the city’s water treatment plant. The fluidized lime is trucked from the plant directly to farm fields, where the spray rig is waiting to be loaded.
Farmer Dean Suderman of Hillsboro said lime application is the first step in improving his soil.
“Liming is where you get the most bang for your buck,” he said. “It’s a little expensive, so you probably don’t want to do it all in one year.”
He said his poorest fields saw yield improvement in a short time.
Plant manager Jeff Mayfield said the way dry lime is applied, it can blow in the wind and not provide even coverage. Fluidized lime is sprayed on and covers the ground uniformly.
He said fluidized lime works faster than dry lime to increase the availability of nutrients in the soil, especially phosphorus. Mixed with liquid, the fine, pure calcium carbonate goes into the soil and works quickly to restore a proper pH balance, the ratio of alkalinity to acidity.
Mayfield said fluidized lime works fast because of the fineness of the calcium carbonate that is used. It moves quickly into the soil. He said yield statistics collected over time show that fluidized lime results in improved yields in six months, but it takes 18 months to get the same result with dry lime applications.