Lime and Gypsum – Do I Need Them on My Farm?

All of us want healthy, happy, productive soil.

Nitrogen fertilisers as well as the larger crop yields seen in the wheatbelt over the last couple of years can both cause higher soil acidity and lower aluminium levels, which can be associated with reduced nutrient and water uptake by crops.

However, whether you need lime and/or gypsum on your farm will depend on what crops you grow and the specific requirements of your soil.

Gypsum can help boost soil sulphur levels and improve soil structure if you have heavier clay soils and lime can be extremely effective in reducing soil acidity.  However, not all crops are affected by soil acidity to the same degree.  Canola is the most acid sensitive of the commonly grown wheatbelt crops, followed by barley, then wheat, and then oats.

If you do apply lime, it can make phosphate and potash more available to your crops, and therefore make the fertilisers you use more cost effective.  However, it can lock up nutrients like zinc and manganese in the soil.

So, soil testing prior to applying anything to your soil is absolutely critical!

We highly recommend soil testing so that you are best armed to go into battle in the new farming season.  We can help you with free soil sampling or with accessing other soil testing services.

Soil testing also helps if you’re looking at ploughing to ameliorate your soil prior to next year’s seeding, as it can give you the opportunity to incorporate lime and/or gypsum while you’re ploughing to get them deeper into the soil profile.  Depending on your soil testing results, you may achieve a greater benefit from applying both lime and gypsum at the same time.

FarmCo Moora and Yerecoin also offer a plant tissue testing service so that you can see if your investment has paid off later in the season.

Very importantly, not all limes on the market are made equal.  If you are going to invest in spreading lime on your farm, make sure that the lime you purchase has the highest neutralising value and the finest particle size possible, to ensure the quickest reduction in soil acidity levels.

FarmCo Moora and Yerecoin are agents for Optima Lime, with pits located in Lancelin and Dongara.

If you have any other questions on soil testing, lime, or gypsum, contact FarmCo Agronomist Helen Lethlean on 0488 010 195.

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