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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 69 No. 6, p. 961-964
    Received: Feb 14, 1977

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Portland Cement as a Soil Amendent for Corn and Soybeans1

  1. R. K. Stivers,
  2. D. Swartzendruber and
  3. W. E. Nyquist2



In the corn belt there are many areas of imperfectly drained soils, often adjacent to well-drained soils in the same fields. Tile drainage of these imperfectly drained soils helps remove excess water within the profile. Slow movement of water into and through the Ap horizon of these soils is thought to contribute to reduced crop yields in wet years. Since application of Portland cement (the binding material in concrete) to soil in a laboratory experiment increased water-stable soil aggregate size as well as hydraulic conductivity of a soil, it was assumed that cement would act similarly in the field and increased crop yields, particularly under wet conditions.

Two experiments were conducted to determine whether the application of portland cement (the binding material in concrete) would increase crop yields or change selected chemical and physical properties of soil. The first experiment was on two silt loam soils—a fine silty, mixed mesic Typic Hapludalf (Russell) and a fine silty mixed mesic Aquiac Arqiudall (Raub) in 1970. Cement was incorporated at O, 560, 1,120, 2,240, and 4,480 kg/ha in a randomized complete block design with four replications per soil. At the end of the 1970 cropping year each plot was split, and the same rates were again applied on one of the two subunits. Corn (Zea mays L.) was grown in 1970 and 1971, and soybeans (Glycine max L. Merr.) in 1972 and 1973. The second experiment was on two other silt loam soils, a fine illitic mesic Typic Hapludalf (Morley) and a fine illitic mesic, Aerie Ochraqualf (Blount), at a different location. Cement was incorporated in 1971, at O, 3,920, and 19,600 kg/ ha, each rate with O and 122 kg/ha of P, with three replications per soil. Corn was grown in 1971 and 1972, and soybeans in 1973. Corn yield increased H-9%, mean weight diameter (MWD) of water-stable soil aggregates increased 54.5%, and soil pH increased 24.6%, with the 19,600 kg/ha rate on Blount soil in 1971. Multiple regression analyses for that soil showed an influence of cement on corn yield not accounted for by MWD and/ or pH, either singly or together. There were no other crop-yield increases related to cement application, but there were increases in Ca and decreases in /n concentration in corn or soybean leaves in selected years. In summary, crop yield increases occurred in one out of six applications of cement and were not economical when they did occur.

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