Effects of liming on soil pH and crop yield
The continuous use ammonium–based fertilizers in crop production have the tendency to acidify soils and threatened crop production in the long-term, leading to reduced crop yields. Conventional lime products used to remediate acidic soils are important costs to producers due to the higher rates of application. However, a lime product, SuperCal 98G, is said to alter pH over a short period of time even at lower application rates. This study was conducted to determine the impact of SuperCal 98G on soil pH, crop yield and net economic return after two years of lime application. The experiment was set up as a split-plot in a randomized complete block design with four replications. The one-time lime rates were 0, 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700 lbs/ac on canola and wheat in 2015. Soil pH (0-6") was estimated prior, during and after harvest to determine the effects of incremental lime rate in 2015 and 2016. Results from the study showed that, there were no significant effects of lime on all the response variables in 2015 growing season and the combined analysis. However, in the 2016 growing season, plant density in canola and plant vigor in wheat at the second reading were all significantly different. However, there is a propensity of increased pH to positively affect yield after two years of application. This is due to the significant positive correlation between yield and soil pH in canola (r2 = 0.56, P<.0001) and wheat (r2 = 0.37, P = 0.0098). Although liming in no-till systems may not result in crop yield responses, especially in the year of application, the continued use of ammonium –based fertilizers and the projected decline in soil pH suggests that, a proactive approach to soil management may be needed in the future. Finally, despite the negative net economic gain in the year of application and even a year following application, farmers should bear in mind that liming is a capital investment rather than an input and expect a net return after few years following application.
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