Fall is a busy time on the farm. Harvesting, trucking, applying fall burndown herbicides, planting cover-crops, tillage, nitrogen applications and many more tasks are essential to making the subsequent growing season a successful one. One of these practices that can contribute to season long success is applying lime in the fall (Figure 1).
The fall and winter seasons are great times to apply lime as it is not a very leachable input in most soil types except for very sandy soils, thus allowing for the lime to begin contributing its neutralizing properties in the field prior to planting. Additional bonuses associated with fall lime application: time savings and weather assurance! Each spring is a precious commodity in most farming operations, and having lime and fertilizer applications done represents another chore complete. Not to mention the fact that Mother Nature (too much water) can often limit timeliness of lime and fertilizer applications in the spring. Having liming application done in the fall can ultimately limit spring soil/field compaction.
To understand the importance of prioritizing a fall application of lime, it is important to understand what lime is, why it is important in the growth and development of row crops, and what forms are available.
Lime represents a key input to most cropping systems in the U.S. that allow for more considerate management in acidic soil types. Moreover, being more proactive with lime applications in the fall and winter represents a greater opportunity to capture more potential yield the following fall.
Wells, K. 1996. When to apply lime and fertilizer. AGR-5. University of Kentucky. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/agr/agr5/agr5.pdf.
Ritchey, E.L., Murdock, L.W., Ditsch, E., McGrath, J.M., and Sikora, F.J. Agricultural lime recommendations based on lime quality. ID-163. University of Kentucky. http://www2.ca.uky.edu.
Carey, P., Ketterings, Q., and Hunter, M. 2006. Liming materials. Agronomy Fact Sheet Series. Fact Sheet 7. Cornell University Cooperative Extension. http://cceonondaga.org/