Saturday, 19 September 2015 15:00

Liming regime brings rewards

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Ranfurly farmer Johnny Girvan says AgLime has created better root depth on his property. Ranfurly farmer Johnny Girvan says AgLime has created better root depth on his property.

Come snow, drought or falling returns, Ranfurly sheep and beef farmer Johnny Girvan always limes, says his lime supplier Graymont.

Each year he limes one third of his 1500ha farm. The spreader visits in autumn or winter, spreading 2500-3000kg/ha; next year it covers another third. 

Girvan bought the farm five years ago, discovering it needed “a shot in the arm” – its pH was about 5.5. Today, because of his liming regime, Graymont says, the pH on the lucerne-based pasture is in the mid-6 range and his lambs are plump and perfect. 

This year, despite challenging conditions including a long summer dry, he averaged 18.2kg for lambs at weaning and 460kg live weight at the end of January for beef. 

Girvan says AgLime has created better root depth on his property and because of the increase in legumes in the pasture the stock do not have to eat as much. The pasture has also proved resilient to mild drought. 

He farms 5500 breeding ewes and 350 cattle, finding that lime “adds valuable heft” to his stock, Graymont says. The pasture and stock enhancements he has noticed compare well with those recorded during extensive low rate liming trials from the 1970s. 

The trials were done by  MAF (now AgResearch) in the King Country, using a finely ground agricultural lime with high purity. 

The trials showed that liming, even at a low application rate of 1.12 tonnes/ha, helped boost stock performance. The recorded improvements included ewe weight gains of 5kg, ewe fleece weight increases of 0.5-0.6kg and a 6% improvement in lamb live weights at weaning. 

Graymont says this research is still well regarded by today’s soil scientists. 

Girvan appreciates the high level of calcium carbonate purity in Graymont AgLime (formerly Taylor’s Lime), the company says.

McLaren Transport, handy to his farm, delivers the AgLime. Manager Chris Spratt says  “99.95%” of his clients choose Graymont over other lime options. “It’s cost-effective and an easy product to apply.” 

Graymont Makaraeo operations manager Craig Porter says the product is a finely ground, high purity limestone with similar chemical characteristics to the lime used in the MAF trials. Products with lower purity must be applied at much higher rates to get the same performance. 

“Graymont AgLime averages 97% calcium carbonate, is Fertmark certified for fineness of grinding, and stored under cover to ensure clients are not penalised for excess water content,” Porter says. 

Girvan uses 090 and DAP acid fertilisers and once blended elemental sulphur with AgLime to correct a minor sulphur deficiency.  

“The economic benefits that we’ve gained through improved stock performance and savings in areas like animal health make liming a really cost effective management tool for our business”, he says. 

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