Consumption of agricultural lime in Arkansas declined significantly during the past seven years. During each of the past four years, lime consumption was lower than any time since 1960. The quantity of lime needed for optimum crop production on Arkansas' soils is estimated to be 2,678,700 metric tons (MT) (3,000,000 tons), based on University of Arkansas soil testing summaries. Since 1980, less than 285,728 MT(320,000 tons) of lime have been used each year. It is the natural tendency for most soils in Arkansas to become more acidic with time. Periodic addition of agricultural limestone, however, can neutralize soil acidity and help to maintain soil productivity. Nitrogen fertilizers, applied for the production of most agricultural crops, may also contribute to the acidification of soils. The annual consumption of acid-forming nitrogen fertilizers in Arkansas increased from approximately 223,225 MT(250,000 tons) during fiscal year 1974-75 to about 392,876 MT(440,000 tons) by fiscal year 1983-84. At least 2.5 times more lime was needed than was used, just to neutralize the residual acidity from acid-forming nitrogen fertilizers alone, during the same period. Shifts in crop hectareages did not account for the magnitude of decline observed in lime consumption. If lime consumption does not increase in the future, and if acid-forming nitrogen fertilizer consumption follows the current increasing trend, soil acidity will cause a decline in the yields of acid-sensitive crops.
Snyder, Clifford S. and Chapman, Stanley L.
"Lime Needs and Trends in Arkansas,"
Journal of the Arkansas Academy of Science: Vol. 39
, Article 27.
Available at: http://scholarworks.uark.edu/jaas/vol39/iss1/27