Lime is a natural substance found in nature. It is used as a food additive and it helps in preserving foods. Limes are naturally present in many fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, and others. They have been added to some other products such as jams and jellies. Lime juice has been used since ancient times because of its flavor enhancing properties. Lime is one of the most common additives to concrete. It is used in the manufacture of road tar, which is widely used as a lubricant on roads and railroad tracks.
The use of lime has increased over time due to its availability. There are several ways that lime can be applied to soils.
Some methods include:
Addition through composting or mulching.
Application directly into the soil.
Drying lime (dried lime) is used to make concrete. Dried lime is made from limestone, gypsum, and water.
It may be mixed with sand or crushed rock in order to form a fine powder. When dry, dried lime will not clog drains or pipes; however, it must be kept moist at all times so that it does not lose its strength and become brittle.
Lime has several uses in soil. When added to sandy soil, it binds the sand together.
This will make the soil less likely to erode. It can also help to neutralize acidity within the soil, which is especially useful when growing plants that prefer more alkaline soils. If limestone is added to soil, it also helps to release nutrients such as phosphate, potash, and magnesium. When growing beans with acid soil, you need to make sure that the soil is slightly basic before planting.
Lime can be used in the garden in order to help prevent against nutrient loss and acidity. One of the main nutrients that can be lost over time is nitrogen.
This can be prevented by adding lime to soil. Acidic soils are caused by the loss of potassium, magnesium, and carbonates. By adding small amounts of lime to the soil, it can help to improve the potassium levels and bring the soil back to its original pH level.
Fertilization is one of the main causes of soil acidification. Nitrogenous fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate, urea, and some organic nitrogen sources can lead to acidic soil conditions.
Best management practices can be used to reduce the amount of nitrogen that is lost from fields. If this is not possible, limestone can be used to neutralize the soil. However, only apply limestone to the soil if there is proof that the soil is acidic. Net acidity should be measured every couple of years in order to determine whether or not lime is needed.
Lime acts as a conditioner in the soil. It can help sand bind together so that it no longer blows away in the wind.
It helps in clay soils by making the soil less sticky when wet. One of the main reasons to use lime is for its ability to neutralize acids in soil. Acids in the soil can come from several sources such as acid rain, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and nitrogen from fertilizer or animal manures.
These acids can cause major problems for plants, especially when most plants prefer more neutral or basic conditions. Some plants that prefer more acidic soil conditions include blueberries and huckleberries.
If you are not sure whether your soil is acidic or basic, you can have it tested by your local county extension office or state university. Your soil should be tested at least every couple of years in order to get the best results.
Organic matter in the soil can also affect the soil’s pH. Soils that have a lot of organic matter tend to have higher pH levels.
This is because organic matter tends to hold onto cations such as ammonium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. When there is a higher amount of these cations in the soil solution, it causes the soil to be less acidic.
A good example of this is peat moss. When peat moss is added to soil, it tends to have a higher pH level than the soil that did not have peat moss added to it.
A few things can be done to lower the pH level of soil that has high organic matter content.
Adding ground limestone or lime can help to decrease the pH level of the soil, but test the soil first to see if it needs it. If the soil has a high amount of sand in it, this also will cause it to have a higher pH level.
Adding peat moss or other organic matter will help to increase the amount of organic matter and lower the pH level.
Lime used to be produced by burning shell deposits such as snail and crab shells. This produced a type of limestone that is called calcium carbonate.
This type of limestone is not as effective in neutralizing acid in the soil, therefore it is not recommended. Ground limestone can be purchased at most garden centers and is usually combined with a fertilizer.
Another type of lime that is recommended is sulphuric acid. Sulphuric acid is a byproduct of the production of fuel from petroleum.
It can sometimes be found near oil well sites. If you choose to use this, handle it very carefully and wear protective gear.
Sources & references used in this article:
Impact of cyclic wetting–drying on swelling behavior of lime-stabilized soil by Y Guney, D Sari, M Cetin, M Tuncan – Building and environment, 2007 – Elsevier
Lime stabilization of clay minerals and soils by FG Bell – Engineering geology, 1996 – Elsevier
Microstructure and hydraulic conductivity of a compacted lime-treated soil by O Cuisinier, JC Auriol, T Le Borgne, D Deneele – Engineering geology, 2011 – Elsevier
Mechanisms of soil-lime stabilization by S Diamond, EB Kinter – Highway research record, 1965 – onlinepubs.trb.org
Soil pH and lime requirement by EO McLean – Methods of soil analysis: Part 2 Chemical and …, 1983 – Wiley Online Library
Behaviour and mineralogy changes in lime-treated expansive soil at 20 C by M Al-Mukhtar, A Lasledj, JF Alcover – Applied clay science, 2010 – Elsevier
Effect of adding natural pozzolana on geotechnical properties of lime-stabilized clayey soil by A Al-Swaidani, I Hammoud, A Meziab – Journal of Rock Mechanics and …, 2016 – Elsevier
Influence of lime and soil pH on Cd availability to plants by A Andersson, KO Nilsson – Ambio, 1974 – JSTOR