By Barry Watson (an excited farmer)
The obvious question is what bearing does this have here. Well once you know what it can do, the question becomes why has it not been mentioned before?
Calcium as we all know has some attributes that are critical to life itself. Without it we don’t have bone development or maintenance of the bone structure. This is the most commonly known attribute but what is not generally known is calcium is the truck of life. Calcium is what is called a cation and on top of that it is a 2+ cation (Obviously 2X strength cation). Now at school we all learnt that a plus ‘+’ and a ‘-‘ stick together (magnetism). So if you have a double strength cation we can move more “-“ ions these are all the other minerals like nitrogen and oxygen which are protein builders.
Calcium has also become what is known as a macro-nutrient. Minerals that are needed in large quantities to sustain life. Dr. William Albrecht who in his first life was a medical doctor but after a while could not understand why the medical profession was treating symptoms and not the causes to illness. He became a soil scientist as all life begins here. He found that without calcium soils became hard to work, sterile and although you could to certain extent grow some things they would not grow well or even be classed as healthy. The philosophy he produced over a lifetime of soil fertility work is what is known to day as “Biological Farming”. In this arena we must have the soil chemistry portion of the soil between 60 & 70% depending on soil type. This is where we start before we talk of throwing nitrogen onto soils to make the grass grow and look good. According to Rosemary Oosthuizen of SA Biofarm “as much as 95% of South Africa’s soil is deficient in calcium.”
According to Neal Kinsey student to Dr. Albrecht “A deficiency in calcium will reduce the nutrient uptake efficiency of plants, meaning that more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients will be needed in the soil to attain the same results as would have been possible if there was sufficient calcium in the soils”.
Before we rush out and lime our pastures (the most cost effective source of calcium) for Gods noblest creatures we must ensure we are not only using the right type of calcium source but also take into account the other nutrients that are needed. Then what also must be bore in mind is that if the particle size of the lime is too large the effect to the soil will take too long. Or simply stagnate thus requiring cultivation to get it to move through the soil profile.
We at Summerhill know that today this is one of our cornerstones to remaining successful on the Breeders championship, and it makes sense this is where our horses spend most of their lives.
AN EXTRACT FROM FARMER’S WEEKLY
The ongoing acidification of soil is a major problem for wheat production in SA’s summer-rainfall areas, and in higher rainfall areas in particular.
Acid soil contains high levels of free aluminium ions, which wheat plants absorb in toxic concentrations. “Aluminium toxicity occurs in the early plant development stages, usually in September when warmer temperatures promote active growth,” John Tolmay said (Researcher at the ARC’s small grain Institute).
Soil acidity, measured on the pH (KCL) scale and soil texture is used to determine the lime requirements.
To effectively neutralize acid soils, Tolmay warns that the correct lime source must be selected, and lime applied should meet the specified fineness and reactivity. Dolomitic agricultural lime must contain over 20% magnesium carbonate and calcitic agricultural lime over 70% calcium carbonate. Lime must be finer than 250 micron.
“It is essential that lime be applied three to four months before planting,” says Tolmay. “Liming dry soil only yields a small change in pH. Nitrogen fertilization, the quantity and quality of lime applied and, most importantly, soil texture, will determine how often lime should be re-applied.”