Many farmers use lime to optimize the pH in their soil, and will be considering liming options based on the results of their soil tests this winter. Soil tests should be analyzed for both soil pH and lime requirement (sometimes reported as buffer pH), in order to tell not only if lime is required, but how much.
Once the results of these tests are known, it is important to choose the lime product that is right for your farm. One of the most important things to do is to consider the neutralizing value of the lime, a measure of its ability to boost soil pH. This is calculated by looking at the calcium carbonate equivalent (CCE) of the lime, which is normally measured as a percent and provides the purity of the liming relative to the calcium carbonate (CaCo₃).
In addition to CCE, liming materials are also rated for their fineness or the size of the particles, which gives you an idea of how long and fast they will be active in the soil. Smaller particles dissolve faster in the soil, giving a short-lived boost of pH, while larger particles dissolve more slowly, providing a gradual boost in pH.
There are also alternatives to traditional liming materials, so be sure to contact your fertilizer supplier or local extension agent to discuss what product would be best for your operation. And as always, it is important to use the full recommended rate indicated by your soil test.
Learn more on choosing the right lime in THIS ARTICLE from USB, as well as find a link to a webcast for more information on the topic.