Methods Of Application
A Controlling Principle. The chief purpose of liming land is to
provide a base with which acid may combine, so that the soil may be
friendly to plant life. Lime has little power to distribute itself
through a soil, and harmful acid may
remain only a few inches distant
from the point where lime has been placed. In a general way, the
tendency of lime is downward, especially when the application at the
surface is heavy. Economical use demands even distribution through the
soil so that a sufficient amount is in every part. Means to that end are
good means of distribution.
Spreading on Grass. Where lime is burned on the farm, and little
account of labor is taken, it has been a common custom to spread the
lime on grass sods the year previous to breaking the sod for corn, using
100 to 300 bushels per acre. Rains carried some of the lime through the
soil, and the increased yields for a few years were due to the improved
physical condition of a stiff soil that a heavy application of
caustic lime produces, and to the disintegration of organic matter and
to change in compounds of mineral plant food. The practice is rightly
going into disrepute, being wasteful and harmful.
The smaller application of any form of lime to correct soil acidity may
be made on grass land that should not be plowed, but the full
effectiveness of an application is not secured in top-dressings. If the
land is under a crop rotation, it is better practice not to apply the
lime on grass, but to defer application until the sod has been broken,
when the lime can be intimately mixed with the soil by use of harrows.
It is the rule that it should go on plowed land, and should be mixed
with the soil before rain puddles it. In no case should it be plowed
When clover or alfalfa shows a lime deficiency, it is advisable to make
an application, either in the spring or after a cutting, obtaining
whatever degree of effectiveness may be possible to this way, but the
fact remains that full return from an application is secured only after
intimate mixture with the soil particles. On the other hand, if land
needs lime, and there is not time or labor for the application when the
soil can be stirred, it is far better to apply on the surface during any
idle time than to leave the soil deficient in lime.
Distributors. The most satisfactory means of distribution is a machine
made for the purpose. A number of good distributors are on the market.
They are designed to handle a large quantity of material after the
fashion of a fertilizer distributor ordinarily attached to a grain
drill. A V-shaped box, with openings at the bottom, and a device to
regulate the quantity per acre, enables the workman to cover the surface
of the ground with an even coat, and the mixing with the soil is done by
Light applications can be made with a drill having a fertilizer
attachment. Some makes of drill have much more capacity than others.
Granular lime, such as limestone, is handled more satisfactorily than a
floury slaked lime.
Farm-Slaked Lime. Lime slaked on the farm must continue to be a
leading source of supply to land. If there is stone on the farm, and
labor in the winter is available, it is not a costly source of supply.
The chief drawback to the use of farm-slaked lime is the difficulty in
securing even distribution. The loss from spreading with shovels from
small piles slaked in the field is heavy. The quantity per acre must be
large to insure sufficient material for every square foot of surface.
The lime slaked in a large heap can be put through distributors only
after screening to remove pieces of stone, unless they are made with a
screening device, and the caustic character and floury condition make
handling disagreeable, but no other method is as economical when lime is
high in price.
Use of the Manure Spreader. The next best device is the manure
spreader. The makes on the market vary in ability to do satisfactory
work with lime, and none does even work with a small quantity per acre.
An addition to the bulk to be handled by placing a layer of other
material in the spreader before filling with lime helps, but some
spreaders do fair work in spreading as little as 3000 pounds of slaked
lime per acre, and certainly far better work than usually is done with
shovels from a wagon.
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