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Acid-base reactions between an acidic soil and plant residues

Sakala, G. M., Rowell, D. L. and Pilbeam, C. J. (2004) Acid-base reactions between an acidic soil and plant residues. Geoderma, 123 (3-4). pp. 219-232. ISSN 0016-7061

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2004.02.002


The elemental composition of residues of maize (Zea mays), sorghum (S. bicolor), groundnuts (Arachis hypogea), soya beans (Glycine max), leucaena (L. leucocephala), gliricidia (G. sepium), and sesbania (S. sesban) was determined as a basis for examining their alkalinity when incorporated into an acidic Zambian Ferralsol. Potential (ash) alkalinity, available alkalinity by titration to pH 4 and soluble alkalinity (16 It water extract titrated to pH 4) were measured. Potential alkalinity ranged from 3 73 (maize) to 1336 (groundnuts) mmol kg(-1) and was equivalent to the excess of their cation charge over inorganic anion charge. Available alkalinity was about half the potential alkalinity. Cations associated with organic anions are the source of alkalinity. About two thirds of the available alkalinity is soluble. Residue buffer curves were determined by titration with H2SO4 to pH 4. Soil buffer capacity measured by addition of NaOH was 12.9 mmol kg(-1) pH(-1). Soil and residue (10 g:0.25 g) were shaken in solution for 24 h and suspension pH values measured. Soil pH increased from 4.3 to between 4.6 (maize) and 5.2 (soyabean) and the amounts of acidity neutralized (calculated from the rise in pH and the soil buffer capacity) were between 3.9 and 11.5 mmol kg(-1), respectively. The apparent base contributions by the residues (calculated from the buffer curves and the fall in pH) ranged between 105 and 350 mmol kg(-1) of residue, equivalent to 2.6 and 8.8 mmol kg(-1) of soil, respectively. Therefore, in contact with soil acidity, more alkalinity becomes available than when in contact with H2SO4 solution. Available alkalinity (to pH 4) would be more than adequate to supply that which reacts with soil but soluble alkalinity would not. It was concluded that soil Al is able to displace cations associated with organic anions in the residues which are not displaced by H+, or that residue decomposition may have begun in the soil suspension releasing some of the non-available alkalinity. Soil and four of the residues were incubated for 100 days and changes in pH, NH4+ and NO3- concentrations measured. An acidity budget equated neutralized soil acidity with residue alkalinity and base or acid produced by N transformations. Most of the potential alkalinity of soyabean and leucaena had reacted after 14 days, but this only occurred after 100 days for gliricidia, and for maize only the available alkalinity reacted. For gliricidia and leucaena, residue alkalinity was primarily used to react with acidity produced by nitrification. Thus, the ability of residues to ameliorate acidity depends not only on their available and potential alkalinity but also on their potential to release mineral N. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Soil Research Centre
ID Code:4073
Uncontrolled Keywords:plant residues plant composition plant alkalinity soil acidity buffering amelioration Zambia TROPICAL SOILS ORGANIC-MATTER PH ASSIMILATION CAPACITY ALUMINUM CATION RATIO ROOTS
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