Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Amelioration of alkaline phytotoxicity by lowering soil pH

D. J. Brautigan A C , P. Rengasamy B and D. J. Chittleborough A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.

B Soil Group, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Urrbrae, SA 5064, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: david.brautigan@adelaide.edu.au

Crop and Pasture Science 65(12) 1278-1287 https://doi.org/10.1071/CP13435
Submitted: 11 December 2013  Accepted: 29 July 2014   Published: 5 November 2014

Abstract

Highly alkaline soils (pH >9) may adversely affect agricultural crop productivity. At pH >9.2, aluminium (Al) phytotoxicity may further retard plant development. Most alkaline soils have little alkaline buffering capacity, making it feasible to use acid to lower soil pH to <9.2. Many methods of lowering soil pH have been trialled; however, little research has been done on their relative effectiveness and longevity. Methods trialled in this study as means of lowering soil pH were chemical additives (gypsum), organic additives (glucose, molasses, horse manure, green manure, humus) and leguminous plants. Gypsum was also used in conjunction with plants to determine any synergistic effects of combining treatments. All ameliorants trialled except humus and horse manure proved effective at lowering soil pH to <9.2. The reduction achieved with biological amendments was temporary, with pH returning to pre-amendment levels over the course of the study. Gypsum was most effective amendment for lowering soil pH and sustaining the lowered pH level. The use of plants to lower soil pH, in conjunction with gypsum to sustain the lowered pH, may be an effective and economic method of remediating Al phytotoxicity in alkaline soils.

Additional keywords: alkaline soils, phytotoxicity, remediation.


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