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While Tim Goodenough has successfully used pelletized lime, the question among many no-tillers is whether it can trim both application rates and costs.
Ohio State University fertility specialist Robert Mullen says you shouldn’t count on getting the same results from using only a fraction of the recommended lime rate. “It’s not that pelletized lime is a poor lime source, as it is actually one of the better lime sources because it is a very fine material,” he says. “However, it simply can’t neutralize soil acidity any better or faster than conventional lime sources.”
Mullen uses the term effective neutralizing power (ENP) when comparing liming materials. The ENP is a function of three things:
1. Total neutralizing power, which depends on the purity of the source and the ratio of calcium to magnesium.
2. Fineness, as measured by particle size.
3. Moisture, as measured by the amount of water in the liming material.
“Pelletized lime is typically finer than ag lime, so its ENP value may be higher, meaning that it takes less pelletized lime to neutralize the same level of acidity,” says Mullen. “But if the lime recommendation is 3 tons per acre and you had a pelletized lime with an ENP of 2000, you’d need 3 tons to achieve the desired neutralization.
“If you had an ag lime with an ENP of only 1000, it would take 6 tons per acre to achieve the desired change in soil pH. Applying only 300 to 500 pounds of pelletized lime per…