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When to Lime Pastures?

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  • When to Lime Pastures?

    So my soil test came back and I need to lime the pastures. I have never had to do this so I'm not sure:
    What month should I do this?
    Do I lime before or after I spread manure or does it not mather?
    Before or after I seed this is done early March
    How much do I put down?
    Can the horses be out after liming the fields?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    Your soil test should of stated how much was needed per acre. Mine does. Talk to your Ag extension guy to find out when would be a good time for your area.
    "Sometimes you just have to shut up and color."


    • #3
      It takes about 6m for the lime to affect the soil pH. Usually recommended to lime in the fall, seed in the spring- but you can do both at the same time.

      Depending on what your soil test results were- rate of lime application would be 1-2 Tons/acre. I would not put anymore than two per acre. Actually I would put one ton down, then come back a year later and put another ton on (unless your pH is wicked low). Be sure to ask your agent about calcitic vs dolomitic lime. In my area, we only use calcitic.

      If you are spreading manure- I would put the lime down first. The manure will act as a blanket and it will be more likely to infiltrate into the ground. Lime on top of manure will in essence be helping the manure and not the soil! It will probably wash/blow away before it soaks into the manure and then into ground.

      Horses can go out after a good rain or 7ish days after applying lime. Do not let them out on freshly limed fields.

      Contact your local ag extension agent or soil conservationist with the USDA- Natural Resource Conservation Service. Both offer free technical assistance that is pertinent to your local area/conditions.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        Around here we generally lime in the fall because that's the dry season and there's less chance of the lime truck getting stuck.

        I don't know if there's really a difference in liming before or after a manure application. Maybe Tamara can comment.

        As noted it takes a while for lime to work its way into the soil and become effective.

        For specifics on your area check with your Extension Officer.

        Good luck in your project.

        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


        • #5
          I use a pelleted lime most times, and it shows results in greener grass, rather quickly. Powdered lime is harder to apply, because it can blow up around you, so you need protective gear for you face and breathing. My fertilizer guy said that the pelleted lime is a faster fix, but the powdered lime is slower and longer lasting for the field in fixing the problem. Price is cheaper for the powdered, but my small fields won't let a truck in with the big spray arms, or spreader box behind. So I must spread powdered lime with a walk-behind, drop spreader. Slow, time consuming. I can do the pelleted lime with a rented spreader wagon, behind the Ford 8N tractor, spreads pretty fast.

          Both kinds of lime have plus and minus to your choices.

          I would spread whatever quantity that the soil test says you need. You get the soil test done to see HOW MUCH you need in minerals applied, ignoring that help is SILLY.

          I try to spread before a rain, so lime is quickly working into the soil. Otherwise a week of damp, dewy mornings does seem to break it down pretty fast after application. I would not put horses out immediately on that field, just to be safe.

          If you talk to the fertilizer guy selling the stuff, tell him crop is grass for horses. Being specific on your animal's needs in the crop, can slant how much is applied too. Doesn't the soil test show a need for any other minerals? Took me a few years of yearly spreading a mixed fertilizer, before the soil test said I needed mostly lime to free up soil bound nitrogen. I do spread stall cleaning sawdust and manure daily, so lime helps keep the nitrogen working at both breaking down the sawdust and feeding the plants in the pasture. Amazing how many helpful things Lime does in the growth cycle!

          My fertilizer plant rents the spreader wagons cheaply, fills them with "your blend" of required minerals to suit the soil test results. I also ask for no urea in my mix, so horses can get on the grass sooner. I know a few who have had problems letting horses on fertilized fields after using urea. Maybe didn't wait long enough, but by just NOT USING urea, I won't have the possibility of that problem. May have to remind the fertilizer guy NO UREA, have HORSES, several times as you get things set to go. Better safe than sorry being repetitive to them. I haul the little wagon home, spread, take it back pretty fast. You have them set the dial for quantity of application, connect the PTO and turn on ground drive belt, wagon spreads 40 FEET on both sides, so you get done with only a few passes on the field.

          I would spread this spring as quick as you can get in the fields without leaving trenches or tracks. As mentioned, I can almost see the pelletized lime going to work by color in the plants. I would like to spread in fall, just seems we are too rainy, too busy or too poor then! Fall is an excellent time to fertilize, gets into the ground and plants so they are loaded before winter. Usually less waiting for spreader wagons too. Everyone around here spreads farm fields in spring, so you often have to wait for wagons.

          Be sure to get a local blend of grass seed, suitable for YOUR area. Many excellent brands folks recommended by folks, but not suitable for other locations. Mixed grasses are best, usually have something growing all season. Cold grass plants go dormant in hot weather, while warm season grasses flourish in July and August heat. Cold season plants come back for Fall and winter, spring.

          It might pay to have someone drill in the grass seed. Grass seed is so VERY expensive you don't want to feed the birds with it, or not have it land in places it can't grow for you. I have found broadcast spreading on grassy field, hard dirt, to be about useless in getting new growth grass. Waste of seed, time and money. Discing lightly to score open the packed dirt, then spreading seed, dragging to cover seed with loose dirt, helps more in getting grass seed going well. We have a trade for spring, so the guy will be using the County No-Till Grass Drill to put my seed in!! Hooray! He has a bigger tractor to power the Drill. We can rent that Drill fairly cheap. Maybe your County has one you could use.

          Fescue is not good for broodmares, so read LABELS on the mixes if you plan to breed any mares who will be out grazing.


          • #6
            Originally posted by dps View Post
            So my soil test came back and I need to lime the pastures. I have never had to do this so I'm not sure:
            What month should I do this?
            6mos to a year before hand

            Tamara in TN
            Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
            I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


            • #7
              For permanent pastures, you can really only put down up to a ton of lime at a time. Otherwise you risk losing it to rain, runoff, etc with no way to till it into the soil.

              There's really no need to pull the horses off the pasture unless you just want to. The lime material is basically calcium, magnesium, etc. and unless your horses are out there eating a belly full of it (which they won't), there shouldn't be a problem.

              As Tamara said, it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year for the lime to fully react with the soil so the sooner you can lime prior to planting, the better off you'll be. Otherwise, you can pretty much lime any time of the year.
              "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

              Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!


              • Original Poster

                Thank you everyone,
                I will plan this week right before it rains or snows and I normally seed in early March so that will give it a little time.

                Should I lime again in the fall? Is there such a thing as doing it too much?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dps View Post

                  Should I lime again in the fall? Is there such a thing as doing it too much?
                  there is never "too much" if the ground requires it....the farmers are spreading lime now so it can be available for the summer/fall fields...the main lime guy came by the office last night and asked where we'd need ours dumped....(which farms?)

                  Tamara in TN
                  Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                  I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


                  • #10
                    dps - Where did you take your soil to be tested? I'm in Downingtown and could take mine to the same place?


                    • #11
                      Lime according to your soil test report. If it says to put out 2 tons per acre and you put out one ton now, then you can put out the other ton in the fall. It IS possible to overlime - it usually doesn't cause too many problems unless you get the pH way out of whack but can cause certain minerals to become unavailable to your grass (mineral deficiency).
                      "Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." --Dwight D Eisenhower

                      Boston Terrier Rescue of NC - www.btrnc.org - Adopt for Life!