Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Agroecosystems Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #355640

Title: Lime movement through highly weathered soil profiles

item NUNES, MARCIO - Orise Fellow
item DENARDIN, JOSE - Embrapa
item VAZ, CARLOS M.P. - Embrapa
item Karlen, Douglas
item Cambardella, Cynthia

Submitted to: Environmental Research Communications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/17/2019
Publication Date: 10/29/2019
Citation: Nunes, M.R., Denardin, J.E., Vaz, C.M.P., Karlen, D.L., Cambardella, C.A. 2019. Lime movement through highly weathered soil profiles. Environmental Research Communications. 1(11).

Interpretive Summary: Applying agricultural lime is essential for successful no-till (NT) production in Brazil. Surface or shallow incorporation of lime successfully increased soil pH within the zone of application, but resulted in high concentrations of calcium (CA) and magnesium (MG) if rates were excessive. Lime did not move below the zone of application and, therefore, did nothing to correct subsoil acidity. Current lime management practices developed for tilled surface soils need to be re-evaluated for NT management. Doing so will benefit farmers, crop consultants, researchers, and many others.

Technical Abstract: Applying agricultural lime is a fundamental agricultural practice for abating acidity in Oxisols, but better management strategies for no-till systems (NTS) are needed to prevent excessive surface pH elevation with little to no subsurface effects. This study was conducted to quantify chemical changes within the soil profile in response to lime and straw applications under both greenhouse and field conditions. Four 50-week controlled environment experiments and a 130-week field study were conducted on soils classified as Rhodic Hapludox (USDA), the Latossolo Vermelho Distrófico and the Nitossolo Vermelho latossólico (Brazil), respectively, in greenhouse and field conditions. The greenhouse studies evaluated four lime rates (0, 4.6, 9.3, or 18.6 Mg/ha) and four straw rates (0, 4, 12 and 16 Mg/ha) either individually or in combination. Lime was applied in surface or incorporated in the top 5 cm, while straw treatments were incorporated in the top 5 cm. In the field trial, lime rates of 0, 8.3 and 33.2 Mg/ha were incorporated into the 0 to 10-cm depth in the two cropping systems evaluated, a soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] monoculture and a diversified cropping system with white oat (Avena sativa), soybean, black oats (Avena strigosa), corn (Zea mays) and wheat (Triticum aestivum). Both field and greenhouse trials showed minimal lime movement into the soil profile with chemical changes limited to 2.5 cm below where it was applied or incorporated regardless of the cropping system employed. Surface application of high lime rates (>18 Mg/ha) promoted chemical stratification resulting in dramatic increases in topsoil pH and exchangeable calcium and magnesium levels with minimal mitigation of subsurface soil acidity. Recognizing the importance of liming Oxisols, these preliminary studies demonstrate a clear need for additional NTS investigations considering different geographic areas, climatic conditions, cropping systems, and lime rates.