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Maximize Winter Barley Yields with Granular-Lime

Posted on 16 January 2017

Granular-Lime in winter barley cultivation is consistently under-utilized, despite the fact that the level of acidity and nutrient availability from the soil is critical to the yield of a barley crop. In addition to the prevalence of acid soils in Northern Ireland, they also tend to be very high in magnesium, and conversely low in calcium. Barley is a calciphilic crop, requiring soils with high levels of available calcium to produce maximum yields, in addition to preferring a pH above 6.4. With nearly 7000 hectares of winter barley sown in Northern Ireland annually, there should be a huge demand for calcium based lime sources such as Granular-Lime to prepare the upcoming barley crop for the increasingly difficult winter weather conditions that we face in Northern Ireland.

As the window for sowing winter cereals is narrow, and because AgLime can take 4-6 months to have full effect, lime is generally an afterthought when it comes to sowing winter barley and often, lime is not applied at all. As a result, these fields tend to have a lower pH level, and therefore have lower nutrient availability and fertiliser use efficiency than fields that have been treated with lime. These untreated crops often present in spring with symptoms of nutrient deficiency and may require a foliar application of expensive micronutrients to correct the deficiency. When a crop is showing symptoms of deficiency, yield damage has already been done. These nutrient deficiencies can potentially be avoided by correcting soil pH during sowing.

As AgLime can take 4-6 months to take full effect in raising soil pH, it is not a practical source of lime for winter barley as it would need to be applied to the field in May, and it would then be ploughed down prior to sowing. This would place the pH corrected soil out of reach of the roots of the plant. Granular-Lime overcomes this problem as it is easily applied to the seedbed either pre or post-planting. The highest quality Granular-Lime is superfine with 99.7% passing through a .125mm sieve and the granules break down quickly – so it is 97.9% reactive within 4 weeks with adequate moisture. This means the pH level around the seed is ideal for barley establishment getting the plant off to the best start and maximizing root development so the plant comes into the spring full of vigour and not sluggish due to nutrient deficiency.

It is advisable to always test your soil to determine your soil pH before applying lime. Farmers should be careful when addressing very low soil pH values as over-liming the soil can result in temporary pH values above 6.5 causing further nutrient deficiency. It is not advisable to apply more than 2 tonne per acre of fine quality AgLime or 300 kilograms/acre of Granular-Lime in one application. Should your field require a pH correction of greater than 0.6, Granular-Lime is an ideal product as you can apply 300kg/ac in the autumn, and then you can apply again in early spring when field conditions suit. Your Granular-Lime supplier should be able to recommend to you the right rate for applying Granular-Lime based on your soil test results.

Granular-Lime is ideal for correcting the soil pH for your winter barley crop. It is cost effective, reacts quickly and raises soil pH for optimal fertiliser efficiency and nutrient uptake, giving your crop the best chance for good establishment and limiting the need for expensive spring applied foliar nutrients. Make sure to use Granular-Lime and make the most of your winter barley crop this year.