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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Acidic Precipitation Effects on Crops: A Review and Analysis of Research1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 12 No. 4, p. 442-453
    Received: Nov 1, 1982

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  1. Patricia M. Irving2



For more than a century it has been known that vegetative growth is affected by the products of fossil fuel combustion. Recently, the acidic deposition phenomenon has gained increasing attention, especially when implicated as a factor responsible for economic loss. Research has been directed toward quantification of effects; however, limitations in the design of many crop studies restricts the usefulness and applicability of the results. Acidic deposition varies in a number of ways that may affect crop yield (i.e., level of acidity, amount and intensity of rain, S and N doses). The responses to these variables may be nonlinear. To allow comparisons of published acid precipitation effects research, calculations for this review were made (based on information in the literature or from personal communication) to describe the experimental conditions, the various dose parameters, and the responses in comparable units for each investigation.

The majority of crop species studied in field and controlled environment experiments exhibited no effect on growth nor yield as a result of simulated acidic rain. The growth and yield of some crops, however, was negatively affected by acidic rain; others exhibited a positive response. This analysis of the current literature concludes that the effects of acidic precipitation on crops appear to be minimal and that when responses are observed, they may be positive or negative. More complex experimental designs and analyses may be necessary in order to examine and describe the possible subtle responses of agricultural systems to acidic precipitation.

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