Ag lime, which is also known as agricultural lime, or garden lime is a natural mineral created out of other natural substances namely, limestone and chalk. The main ingredient, which is calcium carbonate, is a soil additive created from natural substances.
It is a popular substance used in many industries but mainly in the agricultural sectors and does not require burning the lime in a kiln, which most other minerals such as calcium oxide or quick lime and calcium hydroxide or slaked lime, do.
The only process essential for agricultural lime is milling. Which is done by the use of machinery. The cutters on the machine remove the mineral from its source. It helps to extract anything from large individual parts to finer ones. more on this process can be found on this website
Reasons for Using Agricultural Lime in Various Environments
All of the above-mentioned types of lime are used commonly as a conditioner for the soil. It helps to provide a neutral acid-base to the soils of most farms nowadays whereas in the past it was the burnt lime that was the more popular option for farmers. Due to the mass production of many types of lime, this is an affordable and viable solution.
Sometimes the ideal ground is not available for growing plants so external aids such as the ag lime are used. There are many reasons for this, and four of the common ones are included below:
- Used in providing a source of calcium for vegetation and plants
- It helps to improve the commitment of key plant nutrients for example phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium especially for vegetation that is growing in acidic soils.
- It helps to increase the pH of acidic soil, and also increase its alkaline levels.
- It can also help to improve the penetration of water for acidic soils
Other forms of Lime Used in Farming
Besides the ag lime, there are also other solutions that farmers use to help with their gardening, and cultivation requirements. These include:
This type of limestone is also used to feed valuable nutrients into the soil, as well as plants. It can significantly change the pH of the earth to match the necessities of the plants. Also known as dolomitic lime, it is combined with additional fertilizers and organic seeding options, such as fruit seeds.
It often comes in powder form and has additional magnesium and calcium. When bought from farm stores, often the best ratio contains mixtures of about 12% magnesium with about 20% of calcium for optimal benefits.
Some brands also add sodium to their mixes. This helps to change the saline levels of the soil, as too much may cause the plants to wither and die easily: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/dolomite-used-plants-71587.html Most plants have a pH of between 6.0 and 7.4 and adding this mixture into the soil or earth makes it more friendly to them.
Hydrated or Hydraulic Lime
The word ‘hydraulic’ is used to define this type as it is naturally set underwater. It used different limestones from dolomite or ag lime and are sold in powder form. Water is added to it and this hardens the substance while absorbing carbon dioxide in the process. It sets much quicker than the others and is higher in strength, however it is not flexible or breathable so its uses are limited.
This type is mainly used in a construction similar to how cement is used but can also be used for soil, however is not recommended as it can damage it. When adding it to cement, it can change the consistency to a denser end product and is easier to handle and work with. It also helps to retain water which can help to bond it better to the ground.
There is however the risk of movement and cracking when using this. This starts as micro-cracking and then gets worse over time with weather changes. There is a difference between the hydraulic and hydrated and while the hydraulic lime can be mixed with, and reacts with water, the hydrated version is part of the ‘air lime’ products and does not necessarily react optimally with water, and in addition, it does not harden as quickly as its predecessor.
When choosing the best solution to enhance the livelihood of your soil so that your plants can grow at their best, ag lime should be your first preference. It is safe to use, widely available and has many benefits that other composites do not provide.
The key thing to note before using it is consideration of the initial preparation, which is key. The optimal time to add it to soil is before sowing and while the pH is around 5.5 and temperature of anywhere between 7 to 20 degrees Celsius. Many herbs and vegetables are grown in this nutrient-enriched soil and has an ideal composition.