Pelletized lime has been on the market for over 10 years in Ohio. It consists of finely ground limestone held together by some form of binding agent to make a pellet. Since it requires more processing than traditional ag lime it often costs considerably more than bulk ag lime. However, since it's in a pellet form it can easily be blended with other fertilizers and applied with regular dry fertilizer equipment.
University research has shown that pelletized lime does not raise soil pH faster than high quality ag lime. This should not be a surprise since high quality ag lime includes a large portion of material that has been finely ground.
Pelletized lime is one of the many sources of lime available to producers in Ohio. When evaluating a pelletized-lime source ask for the analysis sheet to obtain the Effective Neutralizing Power (ENP) value. Ohio lime regulations require liming materials sold in Ohio to have the ENP listed on the analysis sheet. This value should be given as pounds of ENP. The ENP for pelletized lime would be determined on the lime source prior to the pelletizing process.
Effective neutralizing power takes into account all the components that determine the quality of the lime, i.e., neutralizing ability, particle or grind size, and water content. This value will allow a producer to determine the actual price per pound of neutralizing ability for a lime source and also to calculate how much of a source will be needed to equal a ton of recommended lime. For example, if the lime recommendation was for 2 tons (one ton = 2,000 pounds), a lime source with an ENP of 1,000 pounds would require an application of 4 tons to satisfy the 2-ton lime requirement, since for every ton of this lime source it only provides an effective neutralizing ability of 1,000 pounds. If the lime source had an ENP of 1.500 pounds, it would require an application of 2.7 tons to fulfill the requirement of 2-ton recommendation of lime. These calculations would also be true for pelletized lime source.
Once a producer knows how much lime needs to be applied for a source they can compare price based on ENP. In other words, a producer can determine how much effective neutralizing material they are actually buying in a source. Also remember to consider the following management practices when adding lime this spring:
1) 2 ton applications may be made anytime during the cropping season
2) Applications > 2 tons should be split applied
3) Do not apply more than 8 tons in one season
4) Urea forms of N fertilizer should not be surface applied where lime has recently been surface applied to prevent volatilization losses.
In summary, pelletized lime is one of many sources available to Ohio producers. Its ENP value will allow comparisons to other lime sources. Additional information on lime may be found in Soil Acidity and Liming for Agronomic Production Bulletin AGF 505 and the Tri-State Fertilizer Recommendations for Corn, Soybeans, Wheat and Alfalfa. Possible effects of lime on spring-applied herbicide performance can be found at http://corn.osu.edu/newsletters/2010/2010-02.