There are piles of material waiting to be spread in fields from Terre Haute to Richmond and Evansville to South Bend. As farmers finish harvest and turn to 2013, the piles that dealers or haulers have placed in their field for application indicate that farmers are ready to leave 2012 behind and move on to 2013.
Seeing piles of lime ready to spread dumped in fields over the past few years is not unusual. Interest in liming appears to have increased with more emphasis on accurate and grid or soil type soil sampling over the past two decades. Much of the lime will also be applied variable rate, meaning that areas within the field that test lower than the recommended level will receive more lime, and areas already at adequate pH levels will receive little or no lime.
Companies who make spreading equipment brought new models to the 2012 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, indicating there is interest, mostly from custom applicators but also from some large farm operations, in purchasing beefed-up, accurate spreaders. Some of the new models can handle more than just lime or fertilizer. They can also handle gypsum.
At least some of the piles we saw while driving through the country for interviews over the past two weeks appeared to be gypsum. This soil amendment does not raise soil pH, and is not a substitute for lime. However, the makers of Gypsoil, a brand product, held a field day earlier this fall at Rulon Enterprises near Cicero, and emphasized that gypsum has a place in improving soil health and tilth. It is being used more often, especially by farmers using no-till and cover crops.
Rodney Rulon, who farms in the family business, believes that gypsum pays off in the long run. One benefit is increased infiltration of water into the soil. The next step is having tile lines to handle it.