The share of very acidic and acidic soils in Poland exceeds 40 percent on average. of agricultural land, but there are also areas where the percentage is much higher, even above 60 percent. Soil acidification is one of the most important factors limiting crop production. It worsens fertility and increases the cost of cultivation. In order to ensure the quality of the land, liming should be carried out, which is a basic and necessary treatment for crop production, especially under the climatic and soil conditions of Poland.

What does liming consist of?

Liming is the fertilization of soils with alkaline calcium compounds to neutralize excessive acidity. The treatment is also other chemical, physical and biological changes that are beneficial to the plants, which ultimately affect yield growth. Soil liming is a very important part of fertilizer management, which improves soil structure, strengthens its sorption complex and retention capacity. Liming, as a treatment used to counteract soil acidification, significantly regulates the leaching of nutrients and heavy metals from the soil profile.

Causes of soil acidification in Poland

Acidification of soils in Poland is influenced by both natural conditions and human activities. Primary factors include climate and type of bedrock. More than 90 percent. Soils in Poland are formed on acidic rocks deposited by glaciers. Alkaline components are extensively leached from them, especially in areas with higher annual precipitation totals. Therefore, most acidified soils are located in mountainous and coastal regions. Also,CO2, formed by respiration of soil organisms, concentrates at low temperatures and increases acidification. It is also favored by some natural processes of transformation of organic compounds and nitrogen. An opportunity to counteract soil acidification, especially in Poland’s climatic and soil conditions, is liming.

Impact of soil acidification on the environment

Acidification of soils is a series of negative effects on the environment. In acidic soils, nitrogen and phosphorus use efficiency decreases, while gaseous losses of nitrogen, mobility of aluminum and other metals increase. As a result of the reduced use of macronutrients by plants and the movement of heavy metals, surface water quality deteriorates. Liming affects the soil ecosystem, regulating its physical, physicochemical and biological properties.

Impact of soil acidification on agriculture

Soil and its properties are one of the most important elements of agricultural production space. In acidic soils, the plant’s root system and above-ground parts do not develop properly. There is a reduction in the root ball and poor growth of trichome roots, resulting in impaired nutrient uptake. It is the properties of the soils that determine the quantity and quality of yields, which translates into the profitability of agricultural production and farm profitability.

Yield declines on highly acidic soils can be as high as tens of percent, especially for particularly sensitive crops. One of the most important soil parameters, directly affecting its suitability for growing particular crops, is the pH, which is determined by measuring the pH. Optimal soil pH values for growing most crops range from about 6.0 to 7.0, which corresponds to a weakly acidic to neutral pH. Maintaining optimal pH values in soils is of great importance for their fertility.

Is soil liming cost-effective?

Liming carried out in a rational and sustainable manner is one of the elements of fertilizer management. It also has a positive impact on its economic balance sheet. The use of lime makes it possible to partially reduce the amount of mineral fertilizers applied, thus reducing the cost of buying them. Liming is a treatment that generates expenses (purchase and application), but is balanced positively by the effects obtained, which include. Improving the quality of soils and increasing the amount of agricultural crops obtained. Liming also has a positive effect on reducing plant uptake of heavy metals found in soils. Farmers focused on increasing production profitability should certainly not stop liming their soils.

Subsidies for soil liming

Soil liming generates additional costs, but Poland currently has two systems in place to support soil deacidification:

  1. Nationwide program for environmental soil remediation through liming announced in June 2019. By the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. More information regarding this. The program can be found in a previous article:“Nationwide program for environmental regeneration of soils through liming“;
  2. Funding under the Strategic Plan for the Common Agricultural Policy 2023-2027 in the ecoscheme Carbon Agriculture and Nutrient Management, which includes a payment for the practice of developing and adhering to a fertilizer plan in the variant with liming.

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