Grolime

What is Grolime?

Grolime is the certified trademark of Grolime Ltd, an Irish company which is administered by the members of the Ground Limestone Producers Association of Ireland.

Roadstone as a member of the Ground Limestone Producers Association of Ireland is committed to promoting the many benefits of ground limestone, otherwise known as agricultural lime, to the farming community in Ireland. The association also works with other stakeholder organisations including the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine and Teagasc as part of its ongoing efforts to increase the knowledge of the benefits of lime in Ireland.

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Grolime being spread by tractors

Why use Grolime?

Soil pH plays a key role in soil fertility. Maintaining the soil pH at the optimum level will increase the microbiological activity of the soil and will result in better soil nutrient recycling and release. Soil pH is also critical for maximising the availability of nutrients applied in organic and chemical fertilisers. Lime is a soil conditioner. It corrects soil acidity by neutralising the acids in soils so that the micro-organisms can thrive, break down plant and animal residues and release the elements necessary for healthy plant growth, in particular nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

According to Teagasc, only 35% of soil samples from dairy and drystock farms nationally are at the optimum pH for grassland. By optimising pH, soils can release up to 80kg/ha /year of nitrogen. Lime is a cheap input relative to the cost of fertilisers.

Dolomitic – Magnesium Lime

Calcium limestone is the most common form of ground limestone available. Magnesium limestone (also called dolomitic limestone) can also be used, and are recommended where soil test magnesium levels are less than 50 mg/L. Typically Calcium based limestone is made up of greater than 95% Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3). Dolomitic Limestone or Magnesium based limestone is typically 55% Calcium Carbonate and 45% Magnesium Carbonate. Where dolomitic limestone is used as a liming material, it is important that it is not used repeatedly without monitoring the soil Mg levels. The release of such Mg can be very slow, and frequent use of dolomitic limestone can cause soil Mg to rise to very high levels where it can impede the availability and uptake of other nutrients such as K.

 

Soil testing

A recent soil report will show the rate of lime required depending on the soil type, soil pH and crop type. However a soil analysis result is only as good as the sample taken.

A sample normally comprises around 1kg of soil which is taken to represent an entire area or field which contains
around 1,000t of soil per hectare to a plough depth of 4″
(10cms). It is therefore imperative to obtain as representative a sample as possible or the results will not reflect the nutrient status accurately. The lime requirement is calculated in the laboratory based on a test that measures the soils buffering capacity. The buffering capacity is a measure of how much lime it takes to change the pH of the soil to the target pH.

Lime contains calcium and magnesium both of which are alkaline. The calcium and magnesium ions replace acidic hydrogen and aluminium ions through cation exchange. The full effects of lime may take two years to have an effect on soil pH.

 

Benefits of liming tillage soils

The optimum soil pH is 6.5 for cereals (barley, wheat, oats and maize) and pH 7.0 for beet, peas, beans and oilseed rape. Potatoes and oats are more tolerant of low pH and pH 6.0 is adequate to produce a good crop. Lime should be applied to tillage soils based rape. Potatoes and oats are more tolerant of low pH and Irish tillage soils have a pH < 6.5 .

Benefits of liming grasslands soil

Growing as much grass as possible is the best opportunity to reduce on-farm costs. Soils maintained close to the target pH will have benefits of increased grass yields; more efficient utilisation of applied fertilisers and manures and better persistence of more productive species in the sward such as perennial ryegrass and clover.

Limed soils also tend to release more Nitrogen from the soil organic matter. The ideal pH for grassland soils is pH 6.3 while the optimum pH for clover is 7.0. By applying lime every couple of years it will help improve grass availability, raise soil pH and help condition the soil, this in turn will improve nutrient availability and soil structure. With better soil structure comes improved drainage, which allows for better root development and nutrient uptake.

Interpreting Results

“Soil test results are only as good as the soil sample taken.” This is one of the most important steps in attaining reliable information regarding the soil fertility on your farm. Up to date soil test results are unique for the soils on your farm and will have a large influence on the productivity of your soils over the next 4 to 5 years.

This information will form the basis to formulating fertiliser / lime advice and decisions regarding fertiliser types and formulations

Soil test results will reveal a lot about the soils on your farm and will help explain why some fields perform better than other fields on the farm. It is also a good exercise to compare old and new soil test results for individual fields to assess the effectiveness of the fertiliser programme on your farm over the last number of years. Recent trends show a decline in national soil fertility levels, so by not soil sampling, you may be missing out on knowing your soil fertility levels.
When soil test results return from the laboratory it is important that you interpret the results correctly.

Marked below are three important points to note when reading your results.

1. The current pH reading 2. The target pH 3. The required spread rate per hectare

Grolime nutrient test results

Assessing lime requiements

The lime requirement is calculated in the laboratory based on a test that measures the buffering capacity of the soil. Buffering capacity is a measure of how much lime it takes to change the soil pH. Therefore, soils that are returned with the same soil pH may be shown to have different lime requirements.

This is because the soils have different buffering capacities require more lime to achieve the same increase in pH. Soils that are heavier textured(clay soils) or higher organic matter levels tend to have higher buffering capacities and higher lime requirements as a result. However, while these soils may require more lime following the soil test, the higher buffering capacity should result in the soil retaining lime better in the future once it has been applied.

Lime planning

A 3-5 year liming plan for the farm should be developed to address fields that urgently require pH correction and those that will need maintenance lime applications over the coming years.

Lime can be applied at any time of the year, however, mid-summer and autumn are ideal as soils are dryer and firm, there are increased spreading opportunities post silage and grazing and there is less interference with slurry or N fertiliser applications.

After silage or on bare pastures where there is a requirement for both slurry/urea & lime application, spread slurry/urea first & leave 7 days before spreading lime. If lime is applied first then it is recommended to leave 3 months before following with slurry/urea.

Soil testing

A recent soil report will show the rate of lime required depending on the soil type, soil pH and crop type. However a soil analysis result is only as good as the sample taken.

A sample normally comprises around 1kg of soil which is taken to represent an entire area or field which contains
around 1,000t of soil per hectare to a plough depth of 4″
(10cms). It is therefore imperative to obtain as representative a sample as possible or the results will not reflect the nutrient status accurately. The lime requirement is calculated in the laboratory based on a test that measures the soils buffering capacity. The buffering capacity is a measure of how much lime it takes to change the pH of the soil to the target pH.

Lime contains calcium and magnesium both of which are alkaline. The calcium and magnesium ions replace acidic hydrogen and aluminium ions through cation exchange. The full effects of lime may take two years to have an effect on soil pH.

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