Dolomitic limestone was more effective than calcitic limestone in iin increasing soil pH in an untilled olive orchard uri icon


  • In acid soils, when no-tillage farmers intend to apply lime, the question arises as to whether it should be incorporated into the soil or whether it can be left on the soil surface. In this study, two types of limestone, calcitic (Lcal) and dolomitic (Lmag), were tested in two olive groves of cv. Cobrançosa, with an initial pH of 4.9 (S. Pedro) and 5.5 (Raparigas). In S. Pedro, limestone was incorporated into the soil (Lburied) and in Raparigas, it was left on the floor (Lfloor). The use of limestone significantly increased soil pH in the 0–0.10 m layer in both experiments. In the 0.10–0.20 m soil layer, only Lmag increased significantly the soil pH in comparison with the control. Lmag was more effective than Lcal in increasing cation exchange capacity (CEC) and reducing exchangeable acidity (EA) and aluminium (Al3+) in the Lfloor experiment. Both limes increased leaf calcium (Ca) concentration, and Lmag increased the leaf levels of magnesium (Mg). In Lfloor experiment (higher soil pH), soil microbial carbon (C) decreased, and microbial nitrogen (N) increased with liming, which may indicate an increase in bacteria in the soil and a decrease in fungi. In Lburied experiment (initial pH of 4.9), liming significantly increased accumulated (2018–2021) olive yield (56 and more than 67 kg tree−1, respectively, in the control and liming treatments). In Lfloor experiment (initial pH of 5.5), the accumulated olive yields did not differ significantly between treatments (average values between 105 and 115 kg tree−1). The results of this study provide evidence that liming may increase olive yield in very acid soils and that dolomitic limestone should preferably be used by no-tillage farmers, due its higher solubility and faster effect on soil and trees.
  • This research was funded by the Operational Group ‘Novas práticas em olivais de sequeiro: estratégias de mitigação e adaptação às alterações climáticas’, funded by PT2020 and EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development). The authors are grateful to the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) and FEDER under Programme PT2020 for the financial support to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020) and CITAB (UIDB/04033/2020).

publication date

  • August 2023