Lime: a good start to healthy soil

Phil Medwin is an agronomist with Kellys Mitre 10 in Wodonga.

Phil Medwin is an agronomist with Kellys Mitre 10 in Wodonga.

One of the biggest things that provides a healthy soil environment is the correct pH level.

Most agricultural plants need a soil pH(CaCl2) level of between 5.2 and 8.0, with some plants such as triticale and oats, able to tolerate more acidic conditions while crops such as lucerne and a lot of legumes prefer a more neutral pH level.

Microbial activity in the soil is also affected by pH levels with most activity occurring between pH 5.0 and 7.0. At low pH levels earthworms, nitrifying bacteria and legume Rhizobia bacteria are negatively affected.

Soil pH affects the plant availability of nutrients in the soil and how those nutrients react with each other.

At low pH levels, beneficial elements such as molybdenum, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium become less plant available, while other elements such as aluminium, iron and manganese become more available and may reach levels that are toxic to plants.

To counteract the negative effects of low soil pH levels a comprehensive long-term liming program needs to be followed.

Soil acidification, lowering of the PH levels, occurs naturally over a period of time particularly in improved pasture and high input cropping situations.

Spreading agricultural lime (calcium carbonate), with a high neutralising value, on paddocks showing low pH levels is the most efficient way to bring those soils into a much healthier condition. 

Kellys is able to provide advice and products to assist you in improving your soil health.