North Fork Watershed Association
Saturday, September 23, 2017

Liming Projects

 

The liming project for Swede Run was completed in May of 2007.  The liming of Manners Run began in early October and ended early November, 2007.  Many thanks go out to Don, NFWA member, for the tremendous amount of volunteer hours he contributed to implementing this study.  Thanks also to the PA Game Commission for permitting this study to be conducted on the Game Lands and for use of their machine and operator, Scott, who was extremely helpful during this project.  Thanks also to Amber Siar and the Jefferson County Conservation District for their assistance.

 

A picture of the lime spreader exiting the woods.

The total of forested land that was limed exceeded 400 acres with the majority of that being in the Manners Run sub watershed. The mixture of lime for Manners consisted of about 2/3 fine powder mixed with 1/3 limestone sand, all dry. Previously, when Swede Run was limed last spring, the powdered lime was mixed with water to form a slurry before it was spread. Problems arose from this method, however, as it proved to be troublesome for the spreader. In addition, members have noticed that the lime spread at Swede has not yet worked into the soil (as of this fall). It appears to have caked up and is dissolving very slowly.

   

Amber Siar with the lime that was spread at Swede Run in Spring of 2007.

Preliminary water testing for Swede Run and Manners Run are available on this site under Water Monitoring.  In addition to water testing, soil and vegetative samples are being taken regularly.  Preliminary results from testing leaf samples from Beech trees show toxic levels of Manganese, typical for highly acid soils.  Soils at a pH of less than 5.5 are considered highly acid and usually make certain essential nutrients located in the soil unavailable to the plants.  The nutrients are there, the plant roots just cannot absorb them because other elements make themselves more available at a lower pH, such as Manganese (Mn), thus creating Mn toxicity.  In addition to Manganese, Aluminum also becomes more available, aluminum is toxic to all living things.  Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Phosphorous (P) become much less available in highly acid soils.  Ca, Mg, and P are macro-nutrients essential for proper root growth and regeneration.  Many plants can adapt well to highly acid conditions, down to a certain pH level that varies by species.

 

Picture of Manners Run liming project.

The quantity of lime applied per acre was chosen to hopefully buffer the rainwater collecting in the tributaries and eventually stabilize the pH of the streams.  Fish and other organisms can also adapt to acid water (to a point).  It is the sudden changes in pH that creates a less desirable environment for aquatic species.  The rate of lime applied was roughly 2 tons per acre, a little less than what would normally be recommended to sustain a woodlot on acid soils.  Our goal is to buffer the rainwater without radically changing the environment in which certain species have become accustomed to. 

 

This machine may look menacing, but post liming visits to the Swede Run area after a few months showed barely any signs that the machine was ever there.

The dry lime applied to Manners initially proved to be far better than the wet that was applied to Swede for a few reasons.  The lime was more easily spread since it wasn't as heavy, thus spread farther with each pass.  The lime appeared to have worked into the soil better and post liming water testing, as compared to Swede Run, showed better immediate results.  However, the goal is for the lime to, hopefully, work at buffering the rain for many years to come.  There are no plans to end testing in these areas which were limed and results will continue to be available as long as there are volunteers willing to do the work and funds available to process the samples.