G-Lime is critical to get Winter Barley crops off to the optimal start

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Granular-Lime in winter barley 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, writes Kevin Havekes

MBPR (Agric.) & FACTS Qualified Advisor FE5494.

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 as well as 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 G-Lime to prepare the upcoming barley crop. Especially, due to the increasingly difficult winter weather conditions that we face in NI.

As the window for sowing winter cereals can be narrow, and AgLime can take four to six months to have full effect, lime is generally an afterthought when it comes to sowing winter barley.

Often, lime is not applied at all. As a result, these fields tend to have a lower pH, and therefore lower nutrient availability and fertiliser use efficiency than fields that have been treated with lime. This results in weaker plants with small roots that can have difficulty surviving the winter.

Further, these un-limed crops often present in spring with symptoms of nutrient deficiency and may require a foliar application of expensive micronutrients to correct the deficiency.

However, usually 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 at sowing.

Granular-Lime is ideal for winter barley as it reacts quickly in the soil, giving a full pH lift in just four to six weeks and 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 – meaning pH around the seed is ideal for barley establishment. This ensures the plant gets off to the best start, 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 use a soil test 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 - this causes further nutrient deficiency.

It is not advisable to apply more than 2 tonne per acre of fine quality AgLime or 300 kilograms/acre of G-Lime in one application. Should your field require a pH correction of greater than 0.6, G-Lime is an ideal product as you can apply 300kg/ac in the autumn, and then you can apply G-Lime again in early spring when field conditions suit. Your G-Lime supplier should be able to recommend to you the right rate for applying G-Lime based on your soil test results.

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

Contact John Thompson and Sons on 02890351321 for more on using G-Lime to get your winter barley crop off to the best start this autumn.