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LIME YOUR PLOTS- critical- here’s why…


Staff member
If your PH is low…. Your plants will not be loaded up with calcium & will not uptake other key nutrients like phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, etc etc etc.

Think of it this way…. What’s a key element to grow large racks, healthy deer, good skeletal structure, etc?? CALCIUM…. Which is exactly what most folks are lacking big time & also bound up on low PH soils. When you put down lime, you are putting down large amounts of calcium. That go into the plants. When you put down this lime- it then allows the plants to utilize & uptake all the other nutrients key to the plant & key to those eating it.
Examples of what happens when you don’t do this…. Folks will see far less pressure on soybeans or alfalfa, etc. Why? Because they are bland tasting & lacking nutrients. Have you guys ever eaten APPLES from the store that are grown from S America, California or a big commercial operation? & have you noticed they taste more “bland”? That’s from lack of nutrients!! They are grown on poor soils & just given basics from the cheapest commercial fertilizer….

It’s the same with plants here but even worse if they don’t have both lime & all the other nutrients plants & anything eating them need!! We want our plants to have all the calcium needed. When that happens- the uptake of EVERY OTHER NUTRIENT is then enhanced!! Depending on the nutrient - it’s generally in the 6.5 to 7 range (7 is neutral & a slightly acidity at 6.5 is just fine). Many iowa soils (southern 3rd of state) are often in the 4.5 to 6 range. (Northern iowa is sometimes above 7 PH). Lower PH must be corrected for countless reasons. Yes- it will impact deer wanting to eat it, antler growth & health. Countless other benefits like economic reasons …. Plants will produce far more & have far greater nutrient values.
Make sense ? Get the PH right!! Get your soil test. Ag lime is longer term solution & pelletized lime is a short term, more expensive but easier solution. There’s your winter chore or spring planting reminder!!! Now is a great time to do this!!…. Your deer, Plants & soil will all thank you!


Active Member
Great reminder Skip. Lime is definitely inexpensive.. I've been recently quoted $100 trucking /day + $24 / ton.

Good chart below illustrating many points Skip brought up above.. :D


Lastly, if your pH is good (6-7 range) but your soil test shows a calcium deficiency, gypsum (calcium sulfate) is a great (cheap) source. Usually around $6 per 40 lb bag. Also a decent source of sulfur which anything that produces protein (soybean, wheat, brassicas and even sunflowers) require.

Conversely, if you're in an area with soil a little too alkaline (7.5+), AMS is the most acidifying of all nitrogen sources and can help in pulling your pH down closer to a preferred range. AMS (21-0-0-24S) is also the most stable form of N, allowing you to maximize your use if not thrown down before a rain event.


PMA Member
My last soil test showed around 6.5. Just put down 800lbs of pel lime yesterday on top of the snow. Worked out nice. I do pel lime as my plot is just under an acre and getting an ag lime spreader up to it in the timber wouildn't be easy or cheap. Good feeling knowing that is done. I'm letting my clover run one more season next year, than rotating.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Also...if you're sitting at 6 and would like to get to 7, how many tons would that require per acre?
4.5 tons per acre, roughly. Soil type and lime type variables.

Real World Example: I've got a field i'm getting limed here in southern Iowa. Based on the typical lime available and soil type the agronomist has it at 4.7 tons per acres. PH is at 5.9.
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Active Member
Then an additional charge for spreading? Also...if you're sitting at 6 and would like to get to 7, how many tons would that require per acre?

Some can spread, just call your local MFA or Ag services company. Can also rent and trailer your own, provided your tractor is large enough to pull and operate.

Raising soil pH is based on a few factors.. Current pH, Buffer pH and soil CEC / OM.. If you have from a soil report, you can adjust your rates accordingly:


If you don't want to get in that depth of agronomy, here is a shortcut, the "food plotters" method perhaps:

**In general, it takes 1.2 tons of agricultural lime per acre to raise the pH of the loam soil by one point. It is half that for sandy soil and almost double for clay soil.

Lime ENM (a neutralizing rating) determines how well it takes affect. The higher the number, the better. My area lime ENM is around 780 so it will take more than the charts above indicate. How coarse or fine the lime is affects ENM. There is also a limit on what your soils can digest... (FWIW: Delta Ag doesn't recommend spreading more than 2 tons / ac at a time).

Lastly, keep in mind also that most crops we do (corn, beans, cereal grains, brassicas) do best in slightly acidic soil - In the 6.2 - 6.5 pH range. There is no "magic" about being right at 7.0, and many soils will never get there.


Hope that helps!
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Active Member
Here's my example...

- Current soil pH: 5.6
- Lime Required from 5.6 to 6.5: 3100lbs / ac (At 2000 ENM)

- Recommendation per soil test : 3000lb/acre of a 2000 lb of Effective Neutralizing Material or (100% Rating)
- ENM of my source: 780 lb ENM per 2000 lb of product

-- Actual lime required: (3000 lb/ac x 2000 ENM) / 780 ENM (actual ENM) = 7700 lb / ac

Now that's excessive for the soil to handle, (especially for my lower soil CEC of 9.5), so most will do split applications annually etc. I will be doing 2 tons / ac to start and retesting (and potentially reapplying) in 1 or 2 years.
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