Lime as a Source of Energy for Your Food Plots
If you’ve ever read an article about planting and managing food plots. The author almost certainly recommended taking soil samples to figure out how much lime and fertilizer you’ll need to improve the quality of the forages you’re managing. This has been true in every food plot species profile I’ve published for Quality Whitetails in the last five years. While it may appear that we are beating a dead horse, this is where the rubber hits the road. Improving soil health and forage quality drives our food plots’ productivity, nutritional content, and attractiveness.
The soil in our food plots is important to us. We have high hopes that it will produce the right amount of forage. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to soil management because of so many different types and textures of soil, various types and textures of soil, and other factors. These changes will necessitate a different recipe to get your food plots in the best possible form. Knowing what do deer eat is also important to get the intended results based on the unique forages you wish to manage for deer and other wildlife.
Lime as a Source of Energy for Your Food Plots
A Food Plot With a pH of 5.6 Is 10 Times Acidic as One With a pH of 6.6, but 100 Times Acidic as One With a pH of 7.6.
Collecting a soil sample to evaluate the soil pH and nutrient concentrations of minerals is the first stage in establishing a successful food plot management program. If you didn’t know, pH stands for “potential hydrogen,” and it’s also known as soil acidity. A scale of 0 to 14 indicates how much hydrogen is contained in the soil, with 0 being extremely acidic and 14 being extremely basic. Because it’s a logarithmic scale, a food plot with a pH of 5.6 is 10 times more acidic than one with a pH of 6.6 but 100 times more acidic than one with a pH of 7.6.
The availability of nutrients to plants is highly influenced by soil pH, which considerably impacts plant growth. This cannot be emphasized enough. Many critical minerals needed for plant growth are less available for plants when the soil pH is low, generally implying below 5.8. As a result, if the pH of your food plots is low (acidic), more fertilizer you apply when planting is likely squandered and unavailable to your forages. Simply put, the hydrogen in the soil holds the nutrients already present in the soil and those provided through fertilizer hostage until they may be freed by liming and neutralizing the soil.
Liming is used to fix a low pH. The amount of lime advised will be mentioned in your soil sample report. Even without the addition of fertilizer, simply elevating the pH to the 6.0 to 7.0 range can dramatically boost nutrient availability since nutrients will be released through a chemical reaction process. After the pH has been corrected, applying the proper nutrients for the species you’re managing will significantly boost forage output and health.
A variety of liming substances can be used to control the pH of the soil. The fineness of the substance and its neutralizing value are used to rate these materials. As a result, not all liming materials are created equal, which must be considered to apply the proper amount to obtain the desired results. Most states’ agriculture departments require lime to be ground to a specific size. This is critical since it impacts how quickly the lime neutralizes the soil pH. The finer the lime, the faster it breaks down and begins to work. Dolomitic limestone and calcitic limestone are the most prevalent forms of lime used in agricultural contexts.
If you need to lime your food plots, keep in mind that it takes around 6 months or more for lime to begin raising the soil pH, so it should be applied well ahead of time if feasible. As you arrange your activities, keep this in mind. Additionally, disking lime into the soil will assist speed up the process. As the pH rises, forage production will gradually improve over the growing season. Lime can be effectively sprayed on top of the unbroken ground if you plant with a no-till drill or by no-till top sowing. Still, it will take longer to penetrate through the soil profile and adjust the pH.
Bulk lime can be provided in various ways, and individual food plots can be distributed subsequently. Like the one shown in this photo, bulk lime is consistent with damp sand and must be dispersed with a drop spreader or a belt-fed spreader. A broadcast spreader will not be able to disseminate it. A broadcast spreader can only disperse pelletized lime.
When a soil test advises a large amount of lime, food plotters frequently ask how much to apply and if split applications would be more effective. While many soils only require 2 tons per acre or less to adjust the pH, 3 to 4 tons per acre is not unusual. If feasible, apply the recommended amount in one application in this scenario. There are no practical advantages that I am aware of. That would warrant increasing the number of trips to your plots required if splitting lime treatments were used.
The best way to apply lime to your food plots is to buy it in bulk and spread it with a leased lime buggy or hire a lime truck from an agricultural supply merchant. Purchasing bagged lime will be your best alternative if you work with little land and/or food plots that are difficult to access with huge equipment. This is available in two forms: crushed or pelletized, making it easier to disperse. The best way to apply lime to your food plots is to buy it in bulk, spread it yourself with a hired lime buggy, or hire an agricultural supply merchant to do it for you with a lime truck.
Maintaining a neutral pH using lime, as you can see, is an important aspect of a good food plot management program. Periodic liming will be necessary every few years to keep the pH in the neutral range. This will help you maximize forage output, making your food plots more appealing to the animals you’re feeding them. Drought, insects, disease, and weed pressure are all negative factors that affect forage growth.
Healthy plots are also more resistant to severe grazing pressure and other adverse variables that affect forage growth. Such as drought, insects, disease, and weed pressure can affect forage growth. To get the most out of your food plots, make sure you handle this critical element.
To learn more about food plots, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using Lime to Fuel Your Food Plots
You should apply lime to your food plot. Most areas will require about 1 to 3 tons of lime per acre. This will depend on the results of your soil test. When you lime your food plot, you balance the soil’s pH level. This improves plant yield plant growth and makes fertilizer more efficient.
Lime should be applied to the soil four months before the crop is planted. Lime is not water-soluble and needs to be mixed into the soil. A soil test should be done every three years for crops that grow perennially and every two years for crops that grow for one year only.
If you want your food plot plants to grow tall and be healthy, you need to spread the right amount of lime on the soil. This will help the soil release the fertilizer that you have applied. Ensure not to ignore liming recommendations if you want your plants to thrive.
A rule of thumb recommends using a 1:10 ratio when comparing the short-term neutralizing effectiveness of pelletized lime to agricultural lime. This means that if a soil test recommends the ENM equivalent of 2000 lbs of agricultural lime per acre, you will apply 200 kg of pelletized lime/acre.
Two types of lime are commonly used in agricultural settings: dolomitic limestone and calcitic limestone. If your food plots need to be limed, it is important to consider that it takes about 6 months or more for lime to begin raising the soil pH. So if you can, apply it well in advance.
If the s soil is too acidic, it will be harder for grass to grow. Clover will thrive in this kind of soil instead. Unluckily, you can use soil amendments like lime to balance the pH. This will make it easier for grass to grow and less hospitable for clover.
Pelletized lime is typically smaller than ag-lime, so it can take less to neutralize the same soil acidity level.
The main difference between pelletized and powdered lime is how easy they handle. Pelletized lime is made of finely ground material that breaks down quickly. Powdered lime is dusty and difficult to transport. It can also be hard to accurately apply it.
You should apply lime before you fertilize your soil if it tests high in acidity. Soil with a neutral pH balance will be more effective when fertilizing it.
Discing it in will make it work much quicker, but it will eventually make it down into the soil if you just broadcast it.
You can apply lime when you sow grass seed. … Apply lime in the early spring, sow new lawns or over-sow existing ones in the fall, and then apply lime again in the early spring. This is a good way to make your soil less acidic if it is significantly acidic.
The price of materials per ton is:
- A-5 Rip Rap: $32.50
- 4″ to 6″ (Armor Stone): $15.25
- Ag Lime: $11.00
- Flume, Screenings, Trench Backfill: $9.00
Ground limestone can be spread anytime, and pasture fields can be limed in rotation. Grass can be grazed right away after the lime has been washed off the leaves by rain. If you need to lime more than 7.5 t/ha of grassland, only this amount should be applied initially. The rest should be applied.
50 lbs. Covers up to 1,000 sq. ft.
You’ll know how much lime to add per acre after the tests are done. What is this? 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.