Although the period for the application of both chemical and organic fertilisers is now closed, farmers can continue to apply ground limestone all year round.
Winter is an ideal opportunity for lime application. Periods of hard frost are perfect for liming as the ground can cope with heavy machinery. For example, over one-third of all lime sales in 2018 took place in the final quarter of the year.
The winter period also provides further opportunity for liming due to increased paddock availability when compared to spring and summer, as stock are housed for the winter.
Spreading lime over the winter period allows plenty of time for the lime to work its way into the soil which will encourage grass growth the following spring as it releases organic Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorous (P) from the soil. Lime application will also promote microbial and earthworm activity.
There are many benefits to lime application, including:
- Improvement of sward quality through neutralising soil pH;
- Increased availability of nutrients to grass seed when reseeding;
- Increased crop yields;
Importance of soil testing
Soil testing provides critical information and insight on the fertility of the soil on the farm and is crucial to identify any underperforming swards. It is advisable to test soils every three to five years in order to avoid lime deficits. September to March is the most ideal period to take a representative soil sample of the farmland. It is essential to soil test prior to reseeding in the spring to ensure the lime, phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) requirements of the soil are identified.
Addressing soil nutrient requirements
A programme of soil testing and liming to address nutrient requirements ensures more effective reseeding as seedlings receive the optimum level of nutrients from the soil. When soil fertility and pH is optimised, reseeding improves the overall productivity and profitability of the farm.
According to Teagasc, it is advisable to apply lime on fields with low grass covers when correcting soil pH. Teagasc also recommends to avoid grazing or cutting the sward until sufficient rainfall has washed the lime off the grass. On average, it will take approximately four months to correct soil pH from the time of application. Therefore winter is an ideal time to apply lime, ahead of grazing and silage periods.
Your certified Grolime supplier or Teagasc advisor will be able to assist you with the correct rate of lime application following your soil test results.
Grolime is the certified trademark under which companies who meet necessary criteria are authorised to promote and sell their ground limestone. All Grolime certified companies are licenced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) to manufacture and sell ground limestone for use as a soil conditioner in Ireland. In addition, all Grolime companies undergo independent testing bi-annually for compliance with the national specification for ground limestone. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you source your lime through one of the Grolime suppliers. To view the full list of Grolime approved companies, click here.