Is your farm East of the "Lime Line"?

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day I recently heard about this from a friend ,so what are the added difficulty's in farming in these "acid" regions?...T.O.R.
 

Sheepshape

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Had to look that one up,Old Ram.....but then I'm from Pommy Land. Just looked at a map of the States to see where it lies.

We have slightly acid conditions here.......saw rhododendrons, ericas and snowdrops here when we first came and guessed as much...confirmed by pH analysis....and the soil tends to get more acid over time as the soil compacts. We have to have the fields ploughed and limed every 5-10 years in order to maintain a reasonable grass growth (no amount of fertiliser will be effective if soil pH too low). Beyond that, no real problems....lime is not THAT expensive and can be spread onto ground without first ploughing.We have two types of lime available...the slow-release from shells and the fast (and expensive) type to bring the pH up fast. It's generally said that the slow-release cheap stuff is best if you don't need to shift the pH fast as the plant range is better.

Our pH has never been lower than 5.5-6.0, usually higher, but I'm sure those who live where the soil is very acid may have different views.
 

misfitmorgan

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The indicator plant here is wild strawberries. Any field with wild strawberries needs lime, we lime our fields as needed. We will be plowing and liming with a quick lime and than re-seeding the 12 acres by the house this year....or at least that is the plan. We actually have used barn lime or landscaping lime either one is cheaper here for us than the aglime they sell for fields. 50# bag for $4 it is a powder instead of granules so i think we use more of it but it works.

Ironically we have the largest limestone quarry in the world 75 miles north of us.

@Sheepshape were did you find the map? i never thought to look for such a thing.
 
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Sheepshape

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misfitmorgan....I did a Google search for 'Lime Line soil' and was directed to an archived article from Oregon State Library. There's a map there which almost splits the USA in half vertically. I would provide a link, but my internet is so slow that it won't allow me to do so.....interesting early perspective.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day,thank you for your replies,in our case no amount of Lime would ever solve our acidity as it goes down forever and if your aim is a perennial base for your pasture aren't you working against Nature? So maybe your aim is to plough your farm each year to raise an annual crop of whatever?

Nature has for time immemorial set about evolving plants that flourish in this acid environment and on our place has done quite a good job with a long list of plants both annual and perennial which has fed the local wildlife over the century's,so along comes farmers who want to raise sheep,cattle, goats and the like in this unsuitable land.When we obtained this farm is was a "wreck" with the main pasture being weeds as far as the eye could see.The main reason for our success on the farm was to introduce the mineral mix(based on Pat Colby's advice) "fed to the sheep" and not to try and change the underlying structure of the soils.

In the time we have been on farms I have found that the "simplistic and most profitable" solution is the one that supports the landscape,soils and the underlying biology rather than challenging it and trying to bend it into a shape that suits us.

Anyway I hope the topic has caused you to stop and consider just what it is you want to achieve and how you will accomplish it and are your current actions achieving the desired outcome....T.O.R.
 

Sheepshape

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Baymule......unfortunately I can't say right now as my internet is even slower than usual due to late winter storms. The article was from about 8 authors, all in black and white and had a mall map on page 3 of the USA with a vertical line down it. If/when the internet speeds up, I'll check ( no chance of cables our way, but maybe we'll get satellite)

Couldn't agree more with you,Old Ram. We only 'improve' a couple of our fields and are part of a land stewardship programme aimed at maintaining the environment and encouraging native flora and fauna. Our soil pH is never excessively low, but reeds/rushes tend to take over and form 'sour' areas if we don't do something in the wettest of our fields.We have about 40 acres, but much about half forms hedgerows, fieldside corridors a wooded gorge and undeveloped areas. We have also planted hundreds of native trees since coming here.

Australia and the USA have a superb array of adapted plants and animals who have been 'getting it right' for thousands of years,Old Ram, and I'm sure it's possible to live alongside and encourage increase of those, whilst still being able to keep animals.

Up here we go for tough, thick and waterproof fleeced sheep largely as they are ideal for the climate. I'm pretty sure most of us will be looking for animals that suit the conditions we have rather than to try to change the environment to fit 'alien' animals.

Over here animals which were hunted out of existence a few centuries back are being cautiously reintroduced (beavers, wild boar, wolves)to appropriate areas, though wild boars are getting to be a nuisance in some places. I know such schemes are happening worldwide.
 

misfitmorgan

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G'day,thank you for your replies,in our case no amount of Lime would ever solve our acidity as it goes down forever and if your aim is a perennial base for your pasture aren't you working against Nature? So maybe your aim is to plough your farm each year to raise an annual crop of whatever?

Nature has for time immemorial set about evolving plants that flourish in this acid environment and on our place has done quite a good job with a long list of plants both annual and perennial which has fed the local wildlife over the century's,so along comes farmers who want to raise sheep,cattle, goats and the like in this unsuitable land.When we obtained this farm is was a "wreck" with the main pasture being weeds as far as the eye could see.The main reason for our success on the farm was to introduce the mineral mix(based on Pat Colby's advice) "fed to the sheep" and not to try and change the underlying structure of the soils.

In the time we have been on farms I have found that the "simplistic and most profitable" solution is the one that supports the landscape,soils and the underlying biology rather than challenging it and trying to bend it into a shape that suits us.

Anyway I hope the topic has caused you to stop and consider just what it is you want to achieve and how you will accomplish it and are your current actions achieving the desired outcome....T.O.R.
That would be great but that is not working with nature when nature didnt cause the problem. Soil is constantly becoming more and more acidic unless you live someplace like a dessert. Acid rain makes soil go acidic, water leeching through soil, large amounts of organic matter decomposing, adding fertilizer, etc. So when you take an old cattle/dairy farm that was over populated with cows on not enough pasture to support them and than you take a portion of that pasture and use it to make hay and heavily fertilize it......this is not nature at all. The fact that we have acid rain esp in the midwest is not nature either. You can sit back and let nature make the best out of what she is given but overtime your pastures will eventually be no good anymore because the acidity will get to high for the plant types that grow on their own to carry enough nutrients to the animals. If we need to plow and put lime on a grass hay field once every 5-10yrs than that is what we choose to do. We do not use fertilizer except what falls out of our animals and we do not overcrowd so once the field is limed it should mostly fix the acid problem for many years.

Everyone has their own way of farming and does what works for them. We try to do most things in an organic way, not organic like the organic movement but organic like the way that makes the most sense to what would naturally be happening like pasture raising pigs or free ranging poultry. We first have to undo as much of the damage caused by the previous owners as we can though. We can not make hay on fields taken over by wild strawberries that is just how it is.
 

The Old Ram-Australia

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G'day MFM,I am sorry you took my comments so personally as that was not my intention.The problems associated with "acid rain" are not something we are familiar with,neither is the prospect of 6 months snow to contend with.There are many like you and I who strive to do the right thing by the environment,but the majority are driven by the profits to be gained at the expense of the environment. As I said when we purchased our present farm it was "run down and overrun with weeds and lack of growth",some of the weeds we are still fighting 25 years later and will be until they put us "in the ground",even so we will continue to "fight the good fight".

As you say,"we all have to farm in the way we think is best",but my point was aimed at those who do not and care nothing for their abuse of the land and nature in general.

Once again ,my apologizes for any offence...T.O.r.
 
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