Importance of liming (PDF)

Lime is one of the most important additives a producer can apply to a field or pasture. Lime is a soil conditioner that allows other nutrients to become more available through optimizing the soil pH. Taking a representative soil sample is imperative to receiving accurate soil test results and that is the first step in correcting soil pH.

Soil samples should be taken every 3-5 years. At least 10-20, 6 inch deep cores should be collected from every field. Producers should avoid sampling soon after fertilizing, liming or applying manure. Nutrient availability in soil can fluctuate with soil moisture. Sampling at the same time of year will provide more consistent soil test results. In pastures, avoid sampling within 150 feet of shade areas, watering points and field edges, where livestock may congregate and crop field’s end.

Lime is graded according to the effective neutralizing material (ENM). Most lime companies in southwest Missouri have an ENM ranging from 400-450. The finer the lime is ground, the higher the ENM; finer grinding of limestone improves breakdown and speeds reaction with the soil to change pH levels. Limestone is more effective when incorporated in soil because it is not very water soluble, therefore reacts slowly with soil.

Priority on a limited fertilizer budget should go to correcting soil pH through liming. Lime increases the efficiency of fertilizers like phosphorus and many micronutrients, by increasing their availability to the plant (see illustration). Soil structure, microbial activity, activity of soil incorporated herbicide applications and legume persistence are all improved with a proper soil pH. The illustration demonstrates nutrient availability to the plant according to pH level of the soil. The ideal pH range for cool-season grasses is 5.5-7.0; for legumes 6.0-7.5; for row crops 6.0-6.5.

Many common fertilizers acidify the soil but the impact on soil pH is relatively small. For example, nitrogen fertilizers have long been known to acidify the soil. According to John Lory, MU Plant Sciences, it takes about 180 pounds of calcium carbonate to neutralize 100 pounds of nitrogen added as anhydrous ammonia. At this rate, less than 1 ton/acre of pure lime is needed every 5 years, to offset an application of 200 pounds/acre/year of nitrogen. If producers have a corn-soybean rotation, only 1 ton/acre of lime is needed every 10 years to offset that same nitrogen application. Nitrogen fertilizers vary in their ability to acidify the soil. Ammonium sulfate is the most acidifying nitrogen fertilizer; the impact of urea will be similar to anhydrous ammonia.

Given the slow effects of fertilizers such as nitrogen on soil pH the best way to manage acidification by fertilizers is to monitor soil pH using soil testing. Sampling fields every three to five years will allow you to monitor trends in soil such as soil pH and identify fields where soil pH is close to dropping below optimum.

Liming graph


Real-time weather at Lamar

Missouri crop performance reports

Finding varieties that best fit a farmer's production goals and challenges is an essential part of profitable grain crop production. MU Variety Testing Program provides the reliable, unbiased, up-to-date information that makes that selection possible.

Each year they test more than 600 corn, grain sorghum, and soybean varieties at 32 locations throughout Missouri. These 32 locations are distributed among four regions: North, Central, Southwest and Southeast. The number of locations within a region depends on the specific test but varies from two to five. Companies enter their varieties into tests at one or more of these regions, but their entries must be placed at all locations within a region.

Headquarters for the MU Variety Testing Program are Bradford Research and Extension Center located in the heart of Missouri six miles east of Columbia. More personnel are located at the Delta Research Center near Portageville and the Hundley-Whaley Center near Albany. The majority of our test locations are farmer fields and we appreciate the cooperation and dedication of our cooperators.

2014 Crop performance reports

Grain sorgham

Hay for sale listings

These listings are a joint venture of the Missouri Department of Agriculture and the University of Missouri.

The listings include sellers names, cities, counties and phone numbers. Sellers can be listed by either region or forage type. Bale type is included: small square, large square, small round, large round, baleage, or other. The number of bales and approximate weight of each bale of hay is included, and if the hay has been analyzed, crude protein, acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber, relative feed value, and percent total digestible nutrients may be included. A final area for notes catches information such as first cutting or specifics such as call times.

Hay market listings

Missouri hay directory


Missouri drought information on Facebook

University of Missouri Extension has created a community page on Facebook for organizations and individuals to share information related to drought, extreme heat and wildfires in Missouri: