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Got Lime?

Posted Mar. 1, 2001

"I see you have recommended that I apply lime to my field. Where can I get it?" cooperators often ask after reviewing their soil test report. We have compiled a list of regional lime vendors (table 1) as a resource for you. You might also look in the yellow pages under stone.

In Oklahoma, the Agricultural Liming Materials Act regulates ag lime. This law requires proper labeling of the material's identity and effective calcium carbonate equivalent (ECCE). It also gives the state the authority to sample and test liming material to guarantee the quality as stated by the vendor. Texas does not regulate liming materials.

No matter where you are located, there are some things to consider when purchasing lime. The two most important are the calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) and the fineness efficiency. The CCE is a measure of the acid percentage the lime will neutralize when pure calcium carbonate equals 100 percent. Fineness efficiency relates to the fineness of the grind, gradation, or particle size. The higher the mesh number the lime will pass through, the smaller the particle size and the faster the lime will react in the soil. These two factors are used to calculate the ECCE.

We would like to see an ECCE of at least 50 percent for good ag lime. If the ECCE is less than 50 percent, the lime is either too impure or too coarse.

The lime's moisture is important for two reasons:

  1. the weight of the water replaces or adds to the amount of material purchased and hauled, and trucking is charged by the ton-mile, and
  2. more important, moisture may cause the material to clump and not spread uniformly.

Lime is relatively inexpensive, but trucking can be a significant part of the cost. With high fuel prices, the closest source may be the best. However, you should be sure to figure the delivered cost of material per ton of ECCE.

Let's look at an example whose recommendation is 1.5 tons of ECCE per acre.

If lime A has a 50 percent ECCE, then 1.5 tons per acre ÷ 50 percent = 3 tons of material per acre.
If this lime is 4 dollars per ton, then 3 tons of material per acre x 4 dollars per ton of material = 12 dollars per acre.

If lime B has an 85 percent ECCE, then 1.5 tons per acre ÷ 85 percent = 1.75 tons of material per acre.
If this lime is 6 dollars per ton, then 1.75 tons of material per acre x 6 dollars per ton of material = 10.50 dollars per acre.

In this example, lime B is the better buy even though it costs more per ton.

Now let's look at trucking costs. Charges may range from 10 to 14 cents per ton-mile.

If lime A is near you and costs 1 dollar per ton to deliver x 3 tons per acre, then it costs 3 dollars per acre.
If lime B is farther away and costs 3 dollars per ton to deliver x 1.75 tons per acre, then it costs 5.25 dollars per acre.

When you add these costs (12 + 3 = 15 and 10.50 + 5.25 = 15.75), then lime A is the better buy.

This article is in no way meant to be an endorsement or advertisement for any of the companies listed. Likewise, just because a company was not mentioned does not necessarily mean it doesn't sell an effective product.

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