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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Structure liming enhances aggregate stability and gives varying crop responses on clayey soils

Blomquist, Jens; Simonsson, Magnus; Etana, Ararso; Berglund, Kerstin


It has been suggested that liming can improve soil structure and thereby decrease losses of particles and associated nutrients. In this study, two types of structure lime, slaked lime (Ca(OH)(2)) and a mixed product of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and slaked lime (Ca(OH)(2)), were applied at three different rates in field trials on clayey soils (23%-40% clay). A combination of primary tillage and structure liming was also studied, in a split-plot trial on a clayey soil (25% clay). Aggregate (2-5mm) stability, measured as reduction in turbidity (which is strongly correlated with losses of particulate phosphorus), was significantly increased with the highest application rates of both structure lime products. Aggregate size distribution was also improved with structure lime, creating a finer tilth in the seedbed. Yield response to structure lime was not consistent, with both negative and positive responses over the four-year study period. Positive yield responses can possibly be attributed to the finer tilth preventing evaporation in two dry growing seasons. Negative yield responses were probably an effect of impaired phosphorus availability associated with limited precipitation in May-July in 2011 and 2013. Two years after liming, soil pH levels were significantly elevated in plots with the highest application rate of structure lime, whereas no significant increases were found three years after liming. However, a lingering effect of liming was still detectable, as manganese concentration in barley grain was significantly lower in plots with the highest application rates of both structure lime products in the fourth study year. These results indicate that structure liming can be used as a measure to mitigate phosphorus losses from clayey soils, thereby preventing eutrophication of nearby waters. However, the yield response was varying and unpredictable and thus further investigations are needed to determine the circumstances in which field liming can act efficiently not only to prevent phosphorus losses, but also to ensure consistent yield increases.


Structure lime; aggregate stability; turbidity; phosphorus; aggregate size distribution; yield

Published in

Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica, Section B - Soil and Plant Science
2018, Volume: 68, number: 4, pages: 311-322