Soil acidity has a devastating impact on the soil profile and the soil’s role in plant production. Effects of soil acidity severely hinder the normal growth and development of plants. This is due to the decreased availability of nutrients when acidification occurs. The pH of the soil becomes lower when common farming practices are continuously applied which include:
- herbicide and pesticide use
- cultivation and sowing
- product removal
- fertilizer use and/or use in excess
Soil acidity is not only a concern in the top soil of the soil profile but can also cause the sub soil to acidify as well. Sub soil acidification occurs when the leaching of acidifying substances from the top soil maneuvers its way down through the soil profile. The increase of acidity in the sub soil restricts the availability of essential nutrients to the plant. The roots of plants generally spread deep into the soil profile and it is vital for nutrients to be available for the well-being and correct functioning of the plant. As a consequence of subsoil acidity, plant roots become stunted and are unable to access enough water and nutrients to survive.
Soil acidity impacts upon the sustainability, productivity and profitability of a farming enterprise. Without the implementation methods to control acidity, soils can be forever depleted of the characteristics that enable them to support plant production. Deciding not to employ a control method as means of increasing sustainability will impact upon on potential productivity and profitability gain if control methods were employed. However, the problem of soil acidity can be almost eliminated from a plant production scenario with the application of lime.
Lime is a substance that amends the pH level in soils to a more suitable value, enabling plants to be healthy and function properly. Lime is able to do this due to its nature of bonding to the free hydrogen ions present in the soil. The pH scale is an indication of how many free hydrogen ions (H+) are present. When the pH is low, that means that the amount of H+ is high. To rectify this, lime is added which increases the pH to a more suitable level by reducing the amount of H+ in the soil.
Lime is vital for any farming enterprise that implements continuous farming practices. Without the solution of lime to soil acidity caused by these practices, soils would be unable to uphold the characteristics that enable them support plant growth and development. Thus, impacting upon the sustainability of the land as well as causing a substantial reduction in plant productivity. Liming schemes are crucial to farming enterprises so that soil condition is improved which will prolong the enterprise and be profitable for years to come.