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1998 | 456 |
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Soil acidification and the mobilisation of toxic metals caused by acid deposition and fertiliser application

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The Classical and other long-term experiments at Rothamsted Experimental Station illustrate the causes and effects of soil acidification. One hundred and fifty years of precipitation measurements show how atmospheric deposition has increased, causing acidification of grassland and woodland soils. Where applied, ammonium fertilisers cause very rapid acidification unless their effects are offset by the application of lime. Acidification causes the mobilisation and removal by leaching of base cations to be replaced by aluminium, manganese or iron, the reduction of base saturation and, in the long-term, the reduction of cation exchange capacity by the weathering of clay minerals. Mobilised toxic metals are taken up by vegetation growing on the acidified soils. Some plots of the Park Grass Experiment have acidified to sufficiently to cause the release of aluminium to be taken up in hay in amounts toxic to cattle - a Chemical Time Bomb.
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  • Soil Science Department, IACR-Rothamsted, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AI5 2JQ, U.K.
  • 1. Blake L., Johnston A. E. and Goulding K. W. T., 1994. Mobilization of aluminium in soil by acid deposition and its uptake by grass cut for hay - a Chemical Time Bomb. Soil Use and Management, 10, 51 - 55.
  • 2. Goulding K. W. T., Poulton P. R., Thomas V. H. and Williams R. J. B., 1986. Atmospheric deposition at Rothamsted, Saxmundham and Woburn Experimental Stations, England, 1969 - 1984. Water, Air, Soil Pollution, 29, 27 - 49.
  • 3. Grieve I. C. 1990. Soil and soil solution chemical deposition at three sites within the Loch Dee catchment. SW Scotland. J. Soil Sci., 41, 269 - 277.
  • 4. Jenkinson D. S. 1971. The accumulation of organic matter in soil left uncultivated. Rothamsted Report for 1970, part 2, pp 113 - 137.
  • 5. Johnston A. E. 1994. The Rothamsted Classical Experiments. Ch 2 [in:] Long-term Experiments in Agricultural and Ecological Sciences, R. A Leigh and A. E. Johnston, eds., CAB International, Wallingford, pp 9 - 37.
  • 6. Johnston A. E., Goulding K. W. T. and Poulton P. R., 1986. Soil acidification during more than 100 years under permanent grassland and woodland at Rothamsted. Soil Use and Management. 2, 3 - 10.
  • 7. McGrath S. P. and Cunliff C. H. 1985. A simplified method for the extraction of the metals Fe, Zn, Cu, Ni, Pb, Cr, Co and Mn from soils and sewage sludges. J. of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 36, 794 - 798.
  • 8. Metson A. J. 1956. Methods of chemical analysis for soil survey samples. Soil Bureau Bulletin 12, NZ Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Wellington.
  • 9. Sverdrup H., Warfvinge P., Blake L., and Goulding K. W. T., 1995. Modelling recent and historic soil data from the Rothamsted Experimental Station, England, using SAFE. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. 53. 161 - 177.
  • 10. Tilman D., Dodd M. E., Silvertown J., Poulton P. R., Johnston A. E., and Crawley M. J. 1994. The Park Grass Experiment: Insights from the most long-term ecological study. Ch 16 [in:] Long-term Experiments in Agricultural and Ecological Sciences R. A. Leigh and A. E. Johnston, eds., CAB International, Wallingford, pp 287 - 303.
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