Lime for soil treatment available for Jamestown-area farmers
JAMESTOWN, N.D. -- Farmers trying to reduce the acidity of their soil may have a free resource in a waste material available from the Jamestown Water Department.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. - Farmers trying to reduce the acidity of their soil may have a free resource in a waste material available from the Jamestown Water Department.
The Jamestown Public Works Committee approved Craig Dewald, a Streeter area farmer, using the waste lime from the water treatment plant as a soil additive on his farm. Jamestown required a letter from Dewald saying the city was not liable for any problems that might occur during the loading or hauling of the lime, which is now piled at the Jamestown landfill, but does not charge for the material.
“I’m hoping to get 25 to 30 semi loads,” Dewald said, referring to plans made with an agronomist. “We have one field where we’re spreading it at 1,000 pounds per acre. Some fields are up to 2 tons per acre.”
Alicia Harstad, Stutsman County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources for the North Dakota State University Extension Service, said most soils in Stutsman County don’t need lime.
The calcium in lime is a base element that reduces the acidity of soil. Acid in soil can reduce the ability of plants to absorb soil nutrients.
“Lime raises the pH,” she said, referring to the fact that lime would decrease the acidity of the soil. “Soil in North Dakota is typically neutral to a bit high (in pH).”
While the potential uses for lime are limited in the area, there is an ample supply.
Darrell Hournbuckle, project engineer for Interstate Engineering, said the city water treatment plant uses between 7,500 tons and 8,000 tons of lime per year.
“What he (Dewald) takes is going to be miniscule compared to what is available,” he said. “If it works for him, maybe more will take some.”
The city currently disposes the lime at its landfill, which poses its own problems. When wet, lime is about the consistency of pudding.
“It never really solidifies,” Hournbuckle said. “They mix it with other inert waste before burying it.”
Hournbuckle said the lime available from the city is less potent than agricultural lime that might be available through a fertilizer distributer.
“The majority of pH has been used in the water treatment,” he said. “Most of its ability to raise the pH is gone. They have to use a lot more for the same effect, but it is free.”
Harstad said lime may fit it in with some farmers’ soil management programs.
“They need to test their soils to see if lime will help,” she said, “but the bulk of the land in this area will not need lime.”