Originally Posted by email@example.com
Wow! We have very different soils. I've got VA clay with low pH, but once amended, it stays for quite a while. I learn something new on here every day it seems. I'm just shocked at 8 tons/ac. I really thought it was a typo.
Here is what I can't figure. Lime moves through soil at a certain rate, depending on the soil. I understand it moves much faster through your sandy soil. So, I can understand how you would need to add lime more often, but I can't understand how additional lime helps. Perhaps Dgallow can explain it to us.
I've also got to wonder what kind of OM you've got in that sandy soil. Have you ever done side by side tests where you've added megalime to one field and soil test recommend amounts to the other? Your soil is so different from mine that it might not apply, but one of the notes on my soil test recommends splitting application over a certain amount because plants don't respond to the additional lime above a certain level. It seems intuitive to me that with sandy soil, one would want to apply lesser amounts more frequently. I'm sure things are more complicated than that.
Things are not more complicated than that, Jack...they are exactly as your intuition would lead you to believe. Lick Creek (aka dbltree) is originally from the Thumb area of Michigan. He's familiar with sandy loams. I am not putting words in his mouth, but I've also never heard him advocate exceeding 2 tons/year for lime. 8 tons of lime is what you might apply over a 10 year period on light, sandy soils...not an amount you would dump in one or two applications.
The simple truth is that sandy soils desperately need OM, along with timely
applications of lime and fertilizer. There is no silt or clay to inhibit the leaching of nutrients out of sandy soils. I can't speak for other regions of the country, but in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, where my land is located, farmers stick to what will grow on the land they have. I will talk with the guys at the feed n' grain where I get my seed and amendments...maybe some folks DO lime at greatly elevated rates and I'm not aware of it.
For food plotters, using lime at that rate is both cheap insurance and a false economy. I'm working with a 20 acre area that will just barely grow moss and lichens, holding down what the MSU labs called "weakly buffered soil". In other words it's not sandy loam, or loamy sand...it's sandy SAND! There is no duff on the surface; no soil profile; no OM to speak of...it's dry as a bone 30 minutes after a rain. This stuff is an umbrella and a bottle of sunscreen away from being a BEACH!
I use pelletized lime and go light on the fertilizer. I plant buckwheat in the summer and WR with chicory in the fall. In a few years, with enough OM built up in the soil, it will hold moisture and nutrients better than it does now. I still won't go insane with the lime and I'll never EVER till this ground more than 4" deep. Doing so would ruin years of effort in the space of an hour or two with the discs set too deep.
In some places, you have to face a very stark reality: Sand is not soil! Soil is a mixture of sand, silt and clay, with ideal soil having a fairly low percentage of sand. If your "soil" doesn't have any silt or clay, what you have left is sand. The sooner you accept this and work with what you have, the sooner you properly identify what will work on your ground and your expectations can be adjusted accordingly. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but you CAN grow a decent wildlife food plot on very sandy soil.
The thing is, you can't make true soil out of sand, no matter how much lime you use or how much OM you add/grow. What you can do is carefully cultivate the top layer of "soil" and improve it enough to grow a handful of things deer will eat quite readily.
Trying to turn 18" of sand into the rich black loam of the Ohio Valley is an exercise in futility.