There are various factors that determine the success of any crop cultivation. Part of them is soil pH; it involves soil acidity and alkalinity, usually. Soil pH is the degree or amount of acidity or alkalinity of a soil. It is important and highly recommended that farmers test the pH of their soil before planting.
Different crops have individual pH preference; some crops are acid tolerant while others are not. In order to put the round peg in the round hole, that is, knowing the type of crop to plant on a particular land, testing of soil pH is highly recommended.
Soil pH scale ranges from 0-14; having 7 as the neutral point. Any value below 7 means the soil is acidic while above 7 means the soil is alkaline in nature. Most crops thrive best at pH value 6.5-7.5. When a soil has a low pH, that is, acidic; it can be corrected. One of the methods of correcting low soil pH is liming.
So what is liming?
Liming is the act of applying some material, usually calcium and magnesium containing material, to neutralize or correct the soil pH to a favorable level for crop growth and development. In other words, liming is the process of adding liming materials to the soil to raise the soil pH, thus, enhancing crop growth.
Liming is a traditional procedure in preparing the soil for planting. Materials used in the liming process are called liming materials; they are usually calcium and or magnesium rich compounds. What liming materials do is to reduce the acidity of the soil, thus, raising the soil pH to a more favorable level.
Examples of liming materials soil pH are:
- Calicitic Aglime: It is a ground Limestone containing mainly calcium carbonate.
- Dolomitic Aglime: It is a ground limestone containing a mixture of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.
- Slaked lime: It is composed of calcium hydroxide or a mixture of calcium and magnesium hydroxide.
- Quicklime: It comprises calcium oxide or a mixture of calcium and magnesium oxide.
- Marl: It is a deposit of calcium carbonate derived from mollusk shells, usually mixed with silt and clay.
- Wood ashes
These are the commonly used liming materials. Another important aspect of liming is the effectiveness of the liming material.
The fineness of the liming material determines the effectiveness of the liming material; the finer the liming material the more effective and greater the neutralizing activities of the liming material. Hence, fine liming material should be selected ahead of granulated ones.
How to apply liming material to the soil
Getting a good and effective liming material is a lofty prerequisite to successful control of the soil pH. The mode of application also contributes greatly to the success of this practice.
The best way to apply liming material to the soil is through broadcasting. You must ensure you broadcast the liming material evenly on the soil such that the liming material surfaces on virtually all corners and spots on the plot. This can be done using a spreader on a large farm or manually using farm labor.
If this is properly done, the pH of your soil should be adjusted within 2 weeks. Alternatively, you can apply the liming material on strips or borders of the plot. What matters is getting the liming material on your farm and it does its job perfectly.
When all necessary pre-planting operations are carried out as required, farming will be very lucrative and profitable than we envisaged. Doing the necessary practices rightly is a prerequisite to the success of any business.
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