I am a chemist and what you're saying just doesn't make sense to me. Can you refer me to a page that explains the chemistry of this? I would find it interesting.
Thank you Perry. I didn't get that either, I am not a chemist, but adjusting PH, as I recall, requires adding either an acid or alkaline substance.
Joanna, according to the Wiki Ag Lime has these effects on soil:
it increases the pH of acidic soil (the higher the pH the less acidic the soil)
it provides a source of calcium and magnesium for plants
it permits improved water penetration for acidic soils
it improves the uptake of major plant nutrients(Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) of plants growing on acid soils.
The site Joanna linked to does have some interesting info. The video of the discussion about using "Rock Dust and Biochar as a Strategy for Carbon Sequestration" was very interesting and informative. I have a friend here here that's been working on a biochar soil amendment, (same guy I was collecting maple sap with last weekend), and he was telling me about what he's doing. It's very interesting and very closely aligned with the things Dr. Tom Goreau was discussing in that video.
Again, it all goes back to amending the soil to make it hospitable for living organisms. As it was explained to me, the gist of why biochar works to improve soil is that it provides a good home for beneficial bacteria. The bacteria break down the organic material (and rock dust) which helps plants grow better and bigger by making nutrients available in a form they can use. That's the same thing Dr. Goreau said in that video and I'll also point out that using lime here has very similar effects, perhaps even more profound, than the effects shown at the balsalt quarry he spoke of in that video.
Perry, after thinking about it some more, I think that without knowing what your soil has in it, you really can't know what amendments to add. So I'd say you really do need to do a PH and NPK test. If you've been adding fertilizers for several years now you may have way too much of something and that's what's causing you some problems.
I can say this; if your soil is hard, if there are no worms in it, if it doesn't soak up water very fast, then you positively need more organic material in it no matter how much NPK it tests for or what the PH is.
If that's the case you can go buy some good compost from a trusted local source and dig your rows about one foot deep and mix in a six inch thick layer of compost with it as best as you can.
Then inoculate your rows with native worms and some good organic garden soil (it will have the bacteria in it) from a trusted source. Put as much of both as you can get your hands on in each row.
Then get a bunch of good organic mulch and put a thick layer on top of your rows and water it for a couple weeks. Test it, then amend and fertilize it accordingly before you plant.