Fly ash as a liming material for corn production

D. D. Tarkalson, G. W. Hergert, W. B. Stevens, D. L. McCallister, S. D. Kachman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Fly ash produced as a by-product of subbituminous coal combustion can potentially serve as an alternative liming material without negatively affecting corn (Zea mays L.) production in areas where use of conventional liming materials can be uneconomical due to transportation costs. A study was conducted to determine if fly ash produced from the Nebraska Public Power District Gerald Gentleman Power Station located in Sutherland, NE could be used as an alternative liming material. This study had the following objectives: 1) compare the effects of fly ash on soil pH with other common agricultural lime materials; 2) determine the effects of fly ash on percent Al saturation in selected soils; and 3) determine the effects of fly ash on corn grain yields. Combinations of dry fly ash (DFA), wet fly ash (WFA), beet lime (by-product of sugar beet [Beta vulgaris L.] processing) (BL), and agricultural lime (AGL) were applied at rates ranging from 0.43 to 1.62 times the recommended lime rate to plots on four acidic soils (Anselmo fine sandy loam, Hord fine sandy loam, Holdrege sandy loam, and Valentine fine sand). Soil samples were collected to a depth of 0.2 m from plots and analyzed for pH before lime applications and twice periodically after lime application. The Hord and Valentine soils were analyzed for exchangeable Ca, Mg, K, Na, and Al for determination of percent Al saturation on selected treatments and sampling dates. Corn grain yields were determined annually. Depending on the lime source, soil pH increased in the upper 0.2 m of soil the year after application compared with the pre-application soil pH values for some sites and years, whereas in others there were no significant increases in pH. However, all lime materials at each site failed to raise the soil pH in the upper 0.2 m of all the treatments and soil types to the target pH of 6.5. Fly ash and AGL treatments did not significantly increase corn grain yields compared with the control on the Anselmo, Hord, and Holdrege soils. At the Hord site, AGL and DFA significantly reduced percent Al saturation by 3.1% and 3.7% compared with the control 5 years after application, respectively. Fly ash did not negatively affect corn grain yields compared with AGL. Yields were 12,472, 12,233, and 12,177 kg ha-1 for the Anselmo, Holdrege, and Hord sites averaged over all treatments and years. The lack of yield response to lime additions was potentially a result of lime materials not raising the soil pH to sufficient levels, higher subsoil pH values, or the exchangeable Al not being high enough prior to lime material application to reduce grain yields in these soils. We conclude that the fly ash utilized in this study and applied at rates in this study, increases soil pH comparable to agricultural lime and is an appropriate alternative liming material.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-398
Number of pages13
JournalSoil Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Fly ash as a liming material for corn production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this