Each year, I hear stories of farmers and gardeners adding lime (crushed limestone) to their soil without having a soil test. Often, the reasoning used is the plot “needs something” and lime was the first thing they thought of, without really investigating the science behind the application.

Back in the 1930s, agronomists learned that the pH of a soil affects the availability of nutrients to plants. Most plants prefer a range between 6-7 pH, which is slightly acidic. If the pH is below this range, lime is used to raise the pH (neutralize the acidity). If the pH is above that range, sulfur is used to lower the pH.

Jeff Burbrink is an educator with Purdue Extension Elkhart County. He can be reached at 574-533-0554 or jburbrink@purdue.edu.

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