Monday, November 12, 2007

Turf - Liming Material Comparisons

Liquid calcium materials are being marketed as liming alternatives. The following is an article on comparisons of one such product with regular lime.

Turf managers not only need to be able to diagnose problems as they arise, but to decide on what products and practices to use in correcting these problems. The maintenance of a desired soil pH level is a crucial part of the establishment and maintenance of a healthy stand of turf and varies with the type of turf being maintained. In the Northeast, managers must frequently monitor and adjust pH levels in acidic soils. Agricultural limestone has long been the standard used for this purpose, but frequently we are presented with alternative or new products and are not sure what benefit they will provide or if they will work in solving the problem at hand.

One such product, Solu-Cal, has been suggested as an alternative to limestone. We conducted a study at Rutgers University to compare the effects of Solu-Cal on the chemistry of an infertile sandy loam soil, with an initial pH of 4.9, to that of common liming agents. According to the product label, Solu-Cal is derived from calcium carbonate and calcium oxide with no calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) listed on the label. The product appears as gray pellets with a 1-4mm size range. Solu-Cal was compared to both Baker’s Pulverized Dolomitic Limestone and Pelleted Pro Limestone. The pH was checked after two different time intervals, 71 and 137 days. At the end soil samples were taken and analyzed. The pH, on both dates, showed the greatest increase by Baker’s, followed by Pelleted Pro, and lastly by Solu-Cal. The final soil test results at the application rate of 459 lb/1000ft²(10 tons/A), showed Baker’s treated soil had a pH of 7.2, Pelleted Pro 6.3, and Solu-Cal 5.5. Although the Solu-Cal product was less effective at neutralizing acidity, the soil test results showed that the amount of calcium supplied to the soil was comparable to that of the other two liming agents. Solu-Cal did little to increase exchangeable magnesium in the soil, by comparison. The study results indicate that although Solu-Cal proved less effective than traditional liming materials in raising the pH of an acidic soil, it can be useful as a calcium source.

Extracted from "Solu-Cal as an Alternative for Soil Amendment" by Mary C. Provance-Bowley, Research Assistant and Joseph Heckman, Ph.D., Specialist in Soil Fertility, Rutgers University in the April 6, 2006 edition of the Plant and Pest Advisory, Landscape, Nursery, and Turf Edition.
Reference: Provance-Bowley, M.C. and J.R. Heckman. 2006. Evaluation of Solu-Cal as a Soil Amendment for pH Adjustment. Proceedings of the Fifteenth Annual Rutgers Turfgrass Symposium.

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