Chapter 2. Improving Physical Properties of Sandy Soil by Si-Rich Amendments


E. Bocharnikova, PhD, and V. Matichenkov, Dr. of Sci
Institute Basic Biological Problems Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Russia

Part of the book: Advantages and Disadvantages of Sandy Soils


Sandy soils commonly exhibit low adsorption capacity. Leaching of macro- and micronutrients applied as fertilizer to sandy soil initiates eutrophication of natural waters, thus considerably deteriorating the water quality and posing a serious threat to aquatic communities. Soil amendments, such as lime or dolomite, can significantly improve the adsorption capacity, but Ca and Mg strongly fix phosphorus (P). As a result, much of the applied P becomes unavailable to crops leading to reduced farm profitability. In the laboratory experiment, limestone, CaSiO3, amorphous SiO2 and two types of slags from metallurgical and phosphate industries were applied together with traditional NPK fertilizers to sandy Spodosols in order to evaluate nutrient leaching. The results evidence that P, K, NO3 – and NH4 + leaching was reduced by 21 to 78%. The following range of efficiency for lowering nutrient leaching was determined: SiO2 < CaSiO3 < limestone < phosphate slag < metal slag. Silicon substances increased the biomass and accumulation of P, K, and N by barley plants by 26 to 104%; 16 to 72%; and 13 to 54%, respectively, while limestone reduced the plant P by 20-25%. In the demonstration field test, Si-rich steel slag applied to a sorghum field that was previously used as cattle pasture provided reductions in P concentrations in nearby rivers by 65 and 77%. Several mechanisms responsible for the Si effects are discussed: a) soil-applied Si-rich materials enhance nutrient adsorption; b) additional plant Si nutrition accelerates nutrient uptake; c) newly formed monosilicic acid attributes to soil adsorption capacity.

Keywords: leaching, nutrient, sandy soil


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