Effect of particle size of limestone on Ca, Mg and K contents in soil and in sward plants

Efeito do tamanho das partículas de calcário nos teores de Ca, Mg e K no solo e em plantas forrageiras

Liming increases crop production through improved soil conditions in acidic soils. Among the effects of liming, increased availabilities of alkaline and alkaline-earth cations are worth mention. These availabilities may be affected by the particle size of applied limestone, which influences lime reactivity. The effects of particle size and application schedule of magnesium limestone were investigated on extractable Ca, Mg and K in soil, their concentrations in sward plants and dry-matter yield. Magnesium limestone of various particle sizes was applied to experimental plots at a rate of 3 t ha-1, a grass-clover sward was sown, and the plots were monitored during three years. The finest limestone (< 0.25 mm) in a single application yielded the highest soil Ca and Mg concentrations extracted by Mehlich-3 and NH4Cl. The same limestone split in three annual doses was less effective. Plots treated with the coarsest limestone (2-4 mm) did not differ from control plots. Liming had no effect on potassium, either in soil or plants. Soil concentrations of Ca, Mg and K extracted by Mehlich-3 and NH4Cl were correlated with each other (r = 0.76, 0.75 and 0.67, respectively). NH4Cl extracted more Ca than Mehlich-3, while the latter extracted more Mg and K than NH4Cl. Soil Ca, Mg and K extracted by NH4Cl were also correlated to water extractions. Mg concentration in plants correlated to soil Mg extracted by NH4Cl or by water. Neither the concentrations nor the total contents of Ca and K in plants correlated with extractable soil Ca and K. The total dry matter yield was not affected by liming. The yield of sown species was higher in plots treated with the finest limestone than in plots limed with the coarsest limestone. Cations extracted by water or NH4Cl explained the variance of dry matter yield.

Spain; liming; macronutrients availability; pasture yield

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