Calcium Products - Displaying items by tag: soil pH
Calcium Product 98G


Soil pH: The Foundation for Nutrient Availability

Low soil pH can reduce yield

Soil pH is considered by soil scientists to be a master variable that affects a wide range of chemical and biological processes in the soil. Low pH (below 6.0) can reduce your yield substantially. Nutrient availability is at the crux of this detrimental effect on yield. It’s important to know what is recommended by experts in your state with respect to target pH. Typically, most states in the Midwest recommend a pH of 6.0 – 6.5 to maximize yield while considering liming investment. 

Every nutrient’s availability is affected by soil pH

Soil pH is the foundation of and main governor of soil fertility. Every nutrient’s availability to plants and behavior in soil is affected by soil pH, some more so than others, which is why correcting and maintaining pH at adequate levels is so important.

pHScale Graphic 600x600

Phosphorous (P) availability is the nutrient most hindered by pH, because P is very reactive with other nutrients and minerals in the soil at varying pH levels. At high pH, P is attracted to calcium, while at low pH, P is attracted to aluminum and iron. In both cases, P binds with these elements to form less soluble compounds that plants have difficulty accessing in comparison to P availability in the right pH range.

Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are also affected by pH, but in a different way. At low pH, certain elements increase in levels found in the soil. This allows them to take space away from nutrients like N and K in the soil, leaving them susceptible to leaching from the soil profile.

Maintaining proper pH protects your fertilizer dollars

With the substantial investment you make on your fertility program, it should be clear to see why maintaining the right pH is essential to protecting your fertilizer investment. Further, crops need sufficient access to these nutrients in order to deliver maximum yield and return more on the investment.

MonthsAfterApplication Graphic 600x600

Traditionally, pH has been viewed as a 4-5 year program due to the slow reactivity of ag lime. With 98G, pH management can be shifted to a maintenance program with much smaller application rates (think 100-300 lbs/A) every year or every other year depending on your nitrogen fertilizer regimen. 

By being proactive about your soil pH, you are ensuring that no fertilizer dollar is wasted and a maximum yield can be attained each year.


Soybean Nodules Adversely Affected by Low Soil pH

Soybean Harvest

Soybean nodules supply plant available nitrogen

Nodules on soybean roots are formed by a specific genus of soil-borne bacteria, Rhizobium, which form a symbiotic relationship with the plant. The nodules fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and transform it into plant available nitrogen, while the plant supplies necessary nutrients and energy for the bacteria to multiply and thrive.

Typically, nitrogen fixation via nodules supplies most of the nitrogen that a soybean crop needs during a given year and additional nitrogen applications are not advised as that can have a detrimental effect on nodules. If there is nitrogen available from applied fertilizer, the relationship between the nodules and the plants suffer, ultimately hindering the ability of the nodules to fix nitrogen. It’s a costly move for both growers and the plant-bacteria interaction.

Nodules hindered by low soil pH

Nodule formation and performance is hindered by soil pH below 5.7. Many fields in the Midwest have areas of the field, or wide expanses with values at or below this level. The acidification from nitrogen sources applied during corn rotations continue to drive pH values lower.

When ammonium sulfate (AMS) is used to supply sulfur for soybean crops, a two-headed monster is working against achieving maximum yield. First, nitrogen is being applied, which can hinder nodule formation and performance. Second, AMS is the most acidifying fertilizer used in agriculture today, and that acidity can further degrade nodules.

SO4 – a pH neutral sulfur source

SO4, which is pelletized gypsum, is a pH neutral sulfur source. Its natural solubility meets plant needs for sulfur throughout the growing season. An added benefit is the addition of calcium to replace that lost in the previous season’s harvest.

Increased soybean acres projected for 2017

Due to various agricultural economic metrics, 2017 appears to be on track for the largest soybean crop ever planted in the United States. The USDA predicts 85.5 million acres planted this year, 1.8 million more than last year.

Soybean and nodule health will be more important than ever with the predicted increase in acres planted. Ensure you are making the best decisions for crop health, including nodules, to maximize yields.


Soil Testing Helps Inform Application Decisions

Soil Testing

Why soil test?

Soil testing is an important part of our philosophy at Calcium Products – without knowing the nutrient status of your soil, how are you to make informed decisions about what to apply to it?

Turf managers are normally good about soil testing, but if you haven’t been consistent about it or have been thinking about starting a soil testing program, now is the time to do so. With environmental regulations being administered in certain areas of the U.S., soil testing will help you maximize your fertilizer investment and make educated decisions on the best type of fertilizers to supply exactly what you need.

What a soil test measures

There are a wide variety of soil tests available that can help you gain insight into your nutrient status, soil type/texture, infiltration rates, water holding capacity, etc.

A basic soil test is likely to provide you with the following measurements:

  • - Soil pH
  • - Cation exchange capacity (CEC)
  • - Phosphorous
  • - Potassium
  • - Calcium
  • - Magnesium
  • - Lime requirement

Additional analyses that may be of interest depending on your location and situation might include:

  • - Soil texture
  • - Total soluble salts
  • - Sodium adsorption ratio (SAR)
  • - Sulfur
  • - Micronutrients

Nitrogen testing is typically not included in all sampling regimens due to its instability, making interpretation of the value difficult.

How to get started

Checking in with your state extension specialist to see what they recommend with regard to appropriate testing methods and preferred laboratories in your area is the best way to ensure you are testing all the right things for your situation.

Finding a lab you are comfortable with and that is regionally appropriate for you is important to maintain consistency and to build a historical database on which to inform decisions. The lab you choose will also offer recommendations on what nutrient levels to supply to bring them back into sufficiency range. You may double check with your state extension specialist to see if the laboratory recommendations are aligned with what they normally recommend.


Take the 98G Challenge – See How Your Aglime Stacks Up.

Challenge Blog Image

Do you know how effective your aglime is in changing soil pH?

Below are two photos comparing 98G, our pelletized lime product, to aglime being spread in a field near Boxholm, Iowa. The photos illustrate that the finest particles in aglime, although the most effective at changing soil pH, are subject to significant drift loss.

98G is pelletized for uniform distribution out of application equipment resulting in ideal spread and solubility. It also has the ability to be mixed with other dry fertilizers.

Learn more about the 98G Challenge and request an aglime sample collection kit.

 98G Lo Res

98G, October 18th, 5-10 mph winds.


Aglime Lo Res

Aglime, October 19th, 10-15 mph winds.


Soil pH – The Foundation for Nutrient Availability

Soil pH Blog Image DRAFT1

Every nutrient's availability is affected by soil pH.

Soil pH is the foundation and main governing parameter of soil fertility. Every nutrient’s availability to plants is affected by soil pH – some more so than others – which is why correcting and maintaining soil pH at adequate levels is so important.

Phosphorous (P) availability is the most affected nutrient by pH because the chemistry of P is such that it loves to react with other minerals in the soil at varying pH levels. At high pH, P is very attracted to calcium, while at low pH, P is very attracted to aluminum and iron. When P reacts with calcium, aluminum, or iron, it forms insoluble compounds that plants cannot easily access.

Nitrogen (N) and Potassium (K) are also affected by pH, but not in the same way as P. At low pH, aluminum and iron increase in availability and “out-compete” nutrients like N and K in the soil, leaving N and K susceptible to leaching from the soil profile.

Maintaining proper pH protects fertilizer investments.

With the substantial investment made on N, P, and K fertility programs, it is easy to see why maintaining appropriate pH is paramount to protecting fertilizer investments. Further, crops need sufficient access to these nutrients in order to obtain maximum yield and further return the investment growers make on these important nutrients.

Our philosophy is that soil pH should be corrected and then maintained with yearly or every-other-year, lower rate applications to avoid the pH rollercoaster that can occur with 4- or 5-year aglime application regimens. Our product, 98G, is a pelletized lime that corrects and maintains soil pH. It’s easy to apply and works well in variable rate application programs.

By measuring and managing soil pH, you are ensuring that growers are set up for a high-yielding crop and fertilizer investments are being put to work.


Soil acidity

Within any given soil, there are two states of acidity that need to be accounted for before liming recommendations can be made. First is the active acidity, which indicates the current pH status of the soil. Active acidity accounts for the H+ ions in the soil/water solution that the laboratory measures. What active acidity doesn’t account for, however, is the reserve, or potential acidity. Think of a swimming pool that has a few people in it, those people represent the active acidity. Now, imagine that there are more people outside the pool, just waiting to jump in after some of the others leave. Those folks represent the potential acidity. When we determine how much lime we need to neutralize the acidity in the soil, it is really the potential acidity that needs to be accounted for. To neutralize the active acidity is easy and requires little lime, but the potential acidity can be a major problem to neutralize if it warrants such action.


How Soil pH Affects Soil-Applied Herbicides



Note: This article is intended as a general guide to herbicides and soil pH. It is not a substitute for herbicide labels, nor promotes or discourages the use of any herbicide(s). All herbicides are names are trademarks of their respective manufactures.


Soil pH can make a big impact on soil-applied herbicides
Low soil pH (<6.2) will cause the triazine herbicides (Atrazine, Sencor) to be bound to the soil. When herbicides are adsorbed they are not effective at controlling weeds since they are not available in the soil solution. This is why pH sensitive herbicides like Atrazine, and Sencor can be used with less risk of crop injury in low pH soils. At low soil pH higher rates are need to control weeds. Crop injury increases when soil pH is higher.
When higher rates of herbicides are used in an attempt to get better weed control in low pH soils, herbicide residues in the soil increase. These bound herbicides are released if the soil is over-limed. If ag lime is postponed until just before planting, this release of bound herbicide can have serious detrimental effects on sensitive crops.
"Over-liming" Injury
Sometimes there are problems when soils are limed with large amounts of ag lime. Spreading high rates of lime than required or quickly raising a very acidic soil can cause crop injury. If there is a long history of triazine herbicides used, liming can release these chemicals and kill sensitive crops. Decreased crop growth because of "over-liming" injury is usually associated with lowered availability of phosphorus, potassium, or boron. Over-liming acidic sandy soils can produce zinc and copper deficiencies.
Poor crop performance due to nutrient deficiency is often blamed on Atrazine, and Sencor since problems do not develop until 2 to 3 weeks after emergence. Moldboard plowing can reduces phytotoxicity of Atrazine, and Sencor by diluting the herbicide residue in a large volume of soil. The best way to avoid these problems is to consistently maintain the soil pH above 6.2. Applying SuperCal 98G minimizes the adsorption of triazine herbicides to the soil and results in improved crop safety and performance. Properly limed fields will reduce the residual herbicide in the soil and avoid large release of bound herbicide causing crop injury.
Poor Performance and Carry-over
The half-life of many herbicides varies with soil characteristics and environment. For example, the half-life of atrazine in Georgia on a soil with a pH of 6.8 was reported to be 39 days, whereas in Minnesota the half-life was 261 days on a soil with a 7.9 pH. Whether a herbicide has basic, acidic or neutral properties can determine its ability to exist in the soil solution or adsorbed by soil solids. In general, herbicides whose pH is close to the pH of the soil are strongly adsorbed and are not subject t

What you get with ag lime

For many years pelletized lime has been cast off as too expensive, renter’s lime, or a quick fix. Ag lime has been regarded as long lasting, what land owners use to make long term fixes. There are a number of other things that I think of when I think of ag lime;

Unfortunately the best portion of lime is most likely to drift. Even if you’re the one farmer that gets his lime spread on a calm day, the floater is traveling 10-15 mph, and throwing the lime out at 70+ pounds per square inch. There is no other way to avoid drift than to pelletize the lime.

precision ag lime 3 2

Poor Spreading
You paid for VRT/GPS spreading, not stripped fields

lime stripes Copy

Slow ROI
In a University of Nebraska on Farm Research project they considered a 2-ton application of ag lime had a 5-10 year life span. It took 4 years to get enough yield response to cover the cost. If I were spending $40 per acre I would expect that money to have a better return than 2 bushels in the first 2 years!
UNL Research

Application Problems
Large patches of compaction, piles of stalks, areas that are over limed. Do they do that for free…..

lime dump

At equivalent rates SuperCal 98G is the same cost or less than ag lime.
Renters us it because it works, returning their investment the year it is applied.
You wouldn’t put on 7 years worth of phosphates or potassium, put on only what you need, and conserve your money for something else.
Reduce the headaches, increase yields, quickly, spread only the lime you need for the next couple of years.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!


Soil Biology - Azotobacter

We talk a lot about soil quality and soil biology. When we hear soil biology, earthworms and rhizobium are the first things that come to mind. There are many other soil life forms that deserve our attention. I will present information on the most beneficially ones over the next few months. As fertilizer prices continue to raise, it will be important to not only feed the crop, but also feed the organisms that enable the plant to access those high priced inputs.

I present Azotobacter

Azotobacter is a bacterium that can fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil without the aid of a legume. It is a great source of nitrogen to meet the needs of crops, has the capability rejuvenate the soil, and provides nutrients for other microbiology to max out nitrogen fixation. Its main fuel is carbon (organic matter), but it also requires calcium, and micronutrients for nitrogen fixation.

Besides N fixation Azotobacter improves seed germination, produces plant growth promoting hormones, and fungicidal substances. Azotobacter is the heaviest breathing organism and requires a large amount of organic carbon for its growth. It thrives in alkaline soils and is less effective in soils with poor organic matter content, low pH and high salts.

Azotobacter produces Thiamin, Riboflavin, B12, B1, Biotin, Gibberellins, and Cytocinins. Azotobacter produces substances that are required for Rhizobium bacteria, and Mycorrhize growth. Rhizobium is primarily responsible for nitrogen fixation in legumes. Plants growing in the presence of Mycorrhize have improved nutrient and water uptake, disease resistance and superior growth.

Azotobacter also has a symbiotic relationship with Phosphobacteria. Phosphobacteria as it’s name implies transfers phosphate from insoluble soil particles directly to the plant in soluble from. Azotobacter and Phosphobacteria fix phosphate more efficiently together than alone. Phosphobacteria alone increased potato yields by 6%, while together with Azotobacter increased yields 33%.

Ensure that your not missing out on free nitrogen, keep your pH at 6.5 or higher, supply the necessary carbon and calcium that this extremely beneficial bacteria needs with SuperCal 98G pelletized lime.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!   


I might sail off the edge of the earth

The sun revolves around the earth

The world is flat

It takes 1.2 lbs of Nitrogen to make one bushel of corn


These are a just a few once held beliefs that come to mind. There are lots of them out there. Why do they persist and why does it take so long for people to let go of them. There is one main reasons; fear of loss.

Fear of loss can mean a number of things, fear of change, loss of yield, loss of a customer, loss of reputation.  There are still people who think the world is flat; they cannot accept change. If a crop consultant recommends a low N rate, and his client has poor yields, he will be blamed for the failure, even if N rate is not the reason. The fear of loss of that customer and being ridiculed keeps the status quos in place.

Western Union passed on the telephone, stating it is an unusable technology. They were so heavily invested in the telegraph system that they refused, or couldn’t see the benefits of the new technology. They had such domination on the communications industry that they could not believe that telephones could work.

What practices are you or your consults so heavily invested in that nothing else could work on your operations? Have you tried different N rates, applying sulfur, or cover crops? Yes, changing what your currently doing could cause some loss in the short term and may even take a little extra work. Don’t forget to consider what may be gained if your new practice works, lower fertilizer input costs, more income, more free time.

In 1899, then Patent Commissioner, Charles H. Duell reportedly announced, "everything that can be invented has been invented." We know that is not true and new and innovative inventions and ideas are developed every day

While liming is not new, the way we think about it is new. Would you expect good gains feeding cattle if you feed them 2 years of feed at once? Do you expect excellent return on investment by applying 5 years of phosphates at once? Applying SuperCal 98G pelletized lime reduce wild pH swings, is less expensive than ag lime, yields better, and makes all your other inputs work more efficiently.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.



The Blogronomist is maintained by Craig Dick, head blogronomist and VP of Sales and Marketing. Here you will find a wide array of blog articles from Craig and expert guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

Subscribe to this RSS feed


Maintained by our team of experts, we have a wide array of blog articles from our experts and guests on topics related to soil and crop health, farming and growing tips, and so much more. If it’s not here, ask us!

  1. Categories
  2. Archives