Limestone Quarry Report - U of I Extension

News Release

Limestone Quarry Report

This article was originally published on October 11, 2007 and expired on November 1, 2007. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Limestone should be an important component in every corn and soybean farmer's nutrient management program. It is also relatively inexpensive in relation to the cost of today's fertilizer nutrients. A newly updated booklet from the Illinois Department of Agriculture may help producers to do a more cost-effective job. Bob Frazee, University of Illinois Natural Resources Educator feels the Illinois Voluntary Limestone Program Report, August 2007 Edition, is essential for today's farmer to make an intelligent and cost-effective decision regarding his liming program.

This booklet lists the limestone quarries throughout Illinois by county and then reports the quality of their agricultural limestone. Individual copies of this report are available at no charge by contacting the IL Department of Agriculture, P.O. Box 19281, State Fairgrounds, Springfield, IL 62794-9281 phone (217) 782-3817 or by going to their website at http://www.agr.state.il.us/news/publications.html to download an electronic copy.

This publication examines the relative quality of limestone by reporting the calcium carbonate equivalent of the material and the fineness of grind. According to Frazee, the higher the calcium carbonate value, the greater the limestone's ability to neutralize soil acidity. Similarly, the finer the limestone is ground, the faster it will neutralize soil acidity.

A limestone quarry does not have control over the calcium carbonate equivalent as it is determined by the type and quality of deposition that occurred when those geological formations developed. However, Frazee states that the fineness of grind is a factor, which the quarry can control in the grinding of the material.

For each limestone quarry listed in the report, the fineness of grind and calcium carbonate equivalent factors are combined to provide a "Correction Factor." The Correction Factor relates each sample to the "typical" limestone upon which the University of Illinois bases its application rate recommendations. According to Frazee, a Correction Factor of 1.0 means that no change in University recommended application rates is necessary. A factor of less than 1.0 means the material is better than "typical" and less may be used. A factor greater than 1.0 means the material is not as good as "typical" and more limestone must be applied.

In recent years, "outstanding" quality lime has been reported from several quarries that had a Correction Factor near .50, whereas a few quarries had "poor" quality lime with a Correction Factor near 1.50. According to Frazee, for this "poor" quality limestone to be equivalent in neutralizing value to the "outstanding" quality lime, it would have required an application three times as large. For example, if a farmer's soil test report indicated a need for 3 tons per acre of lime, using the "poor" lime would require the 1.5 Correction Factor multiplied by the 3 tons per acre rate or 4.5 tons of lime per acre. However, using the "outstanding" quality lime with a Correction Factor of .50 multiplied by the 3 tons per acre rate would result in the need for only 1.5 tons per acre of that limestone.

In conclusion, Frazee suggests that farmers need to carefully compare limestone quality between quarries using this new report, and then compare the price per ton of limestone based on the Correction Factors, application charges, and potential effect on soil compaction.

Source: Robert W. Frazee, Extension Educator, Natural Resources Management, rfrazee@illinois.edu

Pull date: November 1, 2007