Quick question on lime

Is there any difference in limestone for application in agriculture. In my quick studies I haven’t found a reason not to use the cheap lime in Tractor Supply which states it is for barn and agriculture use. It’s $2.99 for 50 pounds which is so much cheaper than the fertilizer place sell it $8.00 for 50 pounds. So…what is the upshot here? Is lime lime or is it not?


The cheepest lime should be bulk agricultural lime delivered in a dump truck $30 /ton here. Contact your local gravel yard to see if they can get ag lime
Depends how far you are from the quarry, most of the expense in in hauling.
There are people with spreader trucks that will spread lime in many areas,this will save a lot of work if available near you.
The NRCS has a lime spreader ( pull behind a truck) for rent here. May check your local office ?
$8 - 50lbs. Sounds really expensive . I assume this is pellitized lime.
Easyer to spread , less dust. But to expensive for large areas
Yes there can be a difference in the analysis of of lime, depends on the quarry and seam of lime. I would get an agricultural grade.
Here 50lb bag of ag lime is about $2.00
Don’t breath lime dust !

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For small areas; - by hand…
I do the math , 50lbs = ? Sq. ft.
Step off a grid dropping small handfulls of lime at the corners of area 50lbs should cover, just to mark it off…
Lay a 50lb bag in each grid.
Cut bag in half ,25lbs is easyer to move.
Throw evenly ,down wind, to cover grid
Don’t wear your good cloths, very messy
A nearby farmer with a lime spreader is a easyer option.
Calibrating the spreader is a challenge

The pelletized was even more expensive. I have a small fertilizer spreader and was wondering if I could use that. Good idea with the grid. This is going in my orchard and a big truck is not possible and they wanted a minimum order of 2 tons!:flushed:. I figure 450-500 lbs will cover what I need covered but would much rather pay $2.99/50 lbs than $8.99/50 lbs.


Anybody use a bag of masonry lime the brick layers use?

The main difference in “limestones” is the magnesium content. Hi-Cal lime is almost 100% Ca. Generic lime may be pure Ca lime, or may contains 20% or more Mg.

Depending upon your soil type, Mg may be useful or harmful. In general, loose sandy soils can benefit from more Mg in that it will tend to hold them together more. Most clay soils already have plenty of Mg and probably should not be adding more.

If you have any doubt, get your soil tested someplace that does CEC tests. That will tell you the percent of the various cations, and you can see how much Ca and Mg your soil has.

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Take it from me, using a fertilizer spreader (at least like the one I have, a Scott’s pusher spreader that slings out the fert) was an exercise in frustration when trying to spread ag lime (the really pure stuff, basically chalk). It’s too light to drop through the hole, I had to shake the spreader to get it to drop through the hole and onto the slinger. It could hold 50lb of the stuff but man, it took forever, at least 15 minutes with it wide open. Like Hillbilly suggested, doing it by hand would prob be easier.

I used ag lime because it was about $3 for 50lb, and it was almost pure Ca. The more expensive ($5 for 50lb) pelletized stuff spread much easier but cost a couple more bucks for a 50lb bag, plus it’s Ca/Mg ratio is much lower than ag lime.

I second @Steve333’s suggestion and get a soil test done. It should tell you your P, K, Ca, and Mg levels at least, plus your pH, CEC, which shows what type of soil you have, whether it’s really clay-y, really sandy or somewhere in between. I think the scale is 0-100 and the lower the number the more sandy, the higher, the more clay. Mine is about 10-12, some nutrients tend to leach out faster, but it’s easier to work with, and water doesn’t pool like it would on clay soil.

They might give you a recommendation for how much of each nutrient you might need, in general, to get it to proper levels, such as how many pounds per acre. Their lime rec is probably calculated according to your pH. If it’s pretty acidic, they might tell you to drop, I dont know, about 10lb of ag lime per 100 square feet or so. If your soil may be close to 7.0 pH and you might not need any lime.

I can get a soil test done here for about $3 a sample from the county UK extension office, which is good because I submit maybe 5-7 samples from various plots around the farm. It is quite surprising to see the differences between plots. In one 40 by 60ft plot it was very acidic (5.0) and low in nutrients. I had to drop about 200lb of lime on that one plot alone to get it close to 7.0, and about 50lb of 10-10-10 to get the other nutes up. You might have an A&M office in you area to submit samples, but price will vary, of course.

Probably TMI, but there you go…


I’ve already gotten a soil test. Just acting in their recommendations on the lime. :blush:


I use pelletized lime for the convenience Subdood suggests. The big box stores usually have it for around $4 a bag, I think.

I used to use hydrated lime in the vegetable garden, often right before setting in plants. Later I “learned” in hort school that this was dangerous and could cause burning of roots. Somehow this never happened, even though I had planted tender starts immediately after liming for years.

The only way I know to accurately spread lime over a large area when using a conventional push spreader is with pellitized lime.

The need for dolomitic lime would be based on soil tests showing magnesium content of soil. I’m guessing you know that.

Soils in the NE tend to be deficient in Mg so dolomitic is usually recommended.

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You can use a “drop” spreader for powered lime or ag lime. Some are made to be pulled behind a riding mower. Sometimes I can find pelletized lime on sale for a lower price per bag than the powdered lime but the bags are normally 40 pounds rather than 50 pounds.

Powered lime in my area is similar to ag lime, but it is more finely ground and is very dusty and its sold in bags rather than by the ton

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I’ve spread several tons of various lime products. For bagged garden or barn lime, the quickest option is what I call the “walk and shake” method. Open a bag and walk backwards into any wind and shake the bag until empty (I’d suggest a face mask). While this method was the least expensive choice I could find (bulk ag lime applied by a co-op or similar wasn’t an option), it was also a PITA.

I now use a Solo over the shoulder spreader and pelletized lime. The Solo holds around 20-25 lbs. of pell lime and spreads it very efficiently. Yes, pell lime is more expensive than barn or ag lime but the added expense is worth it to me. If you watch sale fliers you can usually find pell lime on sale a few times a year for between $3 and $4 per 40 lbs. bag.

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Oh, OK, sorry for the novel, then. So, just to be nosy, what were your results, that is, pH, CEC, nute levels? Was it an Aggie report? Maybe you’re wanting to use the ag lime because your CEC and Mg levels are too high? Plus it’s cheaper, of course.

I find it odd that pelletized lime is so high where you’re at. I remember Tractor Supply had it for about $4-5 a bag. But, I also recall it was for a 40lb bag.

I’ll drop my 2 cent in. If your soil is pretty acidic, as much of Appalachia, the Smokey’s and BlueRidge is…adding some lime probably is a good thing…testing or no testing. (But a soil test makes sense for the small investment. I have a $20 probe I stick in the ground and it gives me many readings as I want…but isn’t to be depended on for specifics…just “ball park” type of assessment.
In other words, if your soil is 4.5, the gizmo will definitely let you know it’s not NEUTRAL (7.0).

For large areas, the limestone quarry or the granite quarry, that produces lime for agricultural purposes…I can get as cheap as $9 for a pickup load…or order a dump truck load.

As with anything, it’s not an exact science…as some crushed lime particles are ‘dust’ and some may be big as radish seed or beet seed. The dust will immediately be available, but the tiny rocks will take months or years to all be dissolved and change the pH to what you were looking for.

For a dozen or two fruit trees, a wheelbarrow and a shovel will work just fine.

We did our first tests on our NE KY soil a couple years ago, and it was shocking to see how acidic our plots were, some were around 5 pH, and very low in nutrients. It was probably because the CEC of our soil is about 12, so I guess it leaches out very quickly.

After our first test results, I had to drop about 600lb of lime on mostly just 4 plots! But, it was worth it, that got the pH up to 6.5 or so, and the plants did pretty well. Plus I had to drop quite a bit of fert.

We have two plots down the hill, though, that are very fertile, one is in an old grazing area that horses and cows frequented, so I didn’t have to add much of anything, just a bit of lime and N. The other plot was where her family grew stuff for years, so it was almost too fertile, very high P levels. I imagine they added lots of fert over the years, plus some wood ashes. I’ve had to add very little to it as well, and veggies grow like weeds there, so it’s our main plot.

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My calcium and magnesium is okay. I’ve managed to find some pelleted lime at our local farmers co-op that won’t break the bank however more expensive than the PITA type. :flushed::grimacing::joy:. I guess I’ll go with that!

I’m having to learn all this stuff! I had a soil pH kit that I swear was telling me I had 7.2 pH and now I’ve found out I could’ve been planting blueberries!!!



Your NPK levels are pretty low, you will also need to add some 10-20-20, looks like. It’s good they told you the recs in 1000 sqft amounts, makes it easier to figure out. Looks like you would need about 10lb of 10-20-20 per 1000 sf. That kind of fert will cost you more than the lime, so would be your biggest expense. I’ve bought that formulation at Southern States, and it runs for about $10/50lb bag. If you’re going to cover the entire 48K sq ft, it’ll be pricey. By my cipherin’, you’d need about ten 50lb bags of that fert, if you plan on covering the entire 48K sf. But, it’s in pellet form, so it’d be pretty easy to spread.

Yeah, your pH is quite acidic, but the soil composition looks pretty good, although pretty clay-y. Does heavy rain tend to pool around your property? I don’t have a soil pH kit, but some of them can be way off, depends on which ones you get.

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I’m going to lime this fall and fertilize in late winter. I do have a lot of clay but it drains pretty well and we are on a slight hillside so a lot runs off into the pond. Things get pretty soft on bare ground after a big rain but the sandy clay loam firms up pretty quick.Our summers are so dry that its not much of an issue.

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So I am confused a bit by their analysis/recommendations.

They say in the upper part that your soil has enough Ca and Mg and recommend 0 for each of those elements. Then down on bottom under Limestone requirements they list 10#/1000sqft. Well guys which is it???

I suspect the top numbers for the pure elements, and you don’t really need any more of those. And the “Limestone Requirement” is really to balance pH, with little or no regard to what it might do to the balance of Ca or Mg.

Also not sure what CL is (critical level maybe?). But Ca and Mg are just over that. If so, might want to go lightly on the lime, although that is a quick was to adjust pH. There are other ways to adjust pH, but they take quite a bit longer to make a difference and require quite a bit more in the way of ammendments.

I’m also not an expert at all Katy with this stuff, but I come up with this as the number of 50 lb. bags of 10-20-20 for 48,000 square feet.

In one bag:
16 pounds of Nitrogen
16 pounds of Phosphorous
16 pounds of Potassium

The rate they suggest:
1 pound appx. per 1000 sq. feet
2 pounds appx per 1000 sq. feet
2 pounds appx. per 1000 sq. feet.

My math say:
16 pounds of Nitrogen = 16,000 square feet or (1) 50 pound bag
16 pounds of Phosphorous = 16,000 square feet or (1) 50 pound bag
16 pounds of Potassium = 16,000 square feet or (1) 50 pound bag

That means that (3) 50 pound bags is 48,000 sq. ft. which is the area represented. And each 1,000 square feet is one pound of N or P, or K.

I don’t claim to be smart, believe that. :flushed::smile: @subdood_ky_z6b what do you think?

Best regards,


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I see an error on my part.

2 pounds of P or K per 1000 square feet is 1/2 a 50-pound bag by volume

That changes things.

That means you need 10-40-40 at the rate of 3 bags.

Actually my mind is blown. I don’t know if you need 1-4-4 or 10-40-40. I have no clue.