We just put 2000 lbs of lime per acre on the pastures. That will be our big fertility investment this year. For the past three years, we have invested quite a bit of money on organic fertilizer, but we have noticed that the pastures have become more and more acidic, favoring blackberries and broomsedge rather than palatable grass.
Last fall I did an experiment and heavily limed a small area, careful to remember exactly where I had so I could make a comparison. I didn’t even have to. Everything grew so incredibly tall and vigorously on the limed spot. Reading an issue of Stockman Grassfarmer, I discovered that lime is really one of the most important soil amendments. Acid soil prevents plants from taking up other nutrients. A cow’s rumen will be the same pH as the soil she grazes from. A long-time dairy farmer friend said the biggest mistake they made in the beginning was to not just pour tons of lime onto their pastures. So we are trying lots of lime this year; we’ll see what happens.
It all went well, except the blockheads we got the lime from gave us twice as much as we really wanted, and didn’t tell us until it was already on. We hired our neighbor to spread it with his tractor. All in all, it was about as much for us to lime the whole place with 2000 lbs per acre as it was for me to toss on 400 lbs per acre on the first few lines, so I’m pleased with it. And my arm doesn’t hurt.