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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 9 No. 4, p. 547-552
    Received: Oct 15, 1979

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Effects of Drilling Fluids on Soils and Plants: I. Individual Fluid Components1

  1. Raymond W. Miller,
  2. Shahnaz Honarvar and
  3. Barbara Hunsaker2



The effects of 31 drilling fluid (drilling mud) components on the growth of green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L., ‘Tendergreen’) and sweet corn [Zea may var. saccharata (Sturtev.) ‘Bailey,’ Northrup King 199] were evaluated in greenhouse studies. Plants grew well in fertile Dagor silt loam soil (Cumulic Haploxeroli) when the soil was mixed with most soil-component mixtures at disposal proportions normally expected. Vinyl acetate and maleic acid polymer (VAMA) addition caused significantly increased growth at the 95% confidence level. No statistically significant depression of plant growth occurred at normal rates with asbestos, asphalt, barite, bentonite, calcium lignosulfonate, sodium polyacrylate, a modified tannin, ethoxylated nonylphenol, a filming amine, gilsonite, a Xanthan gum, paraformaldehyde, a pipe dope, hydrolized polyacrylamide, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, sodium hydroxide added as pellets, and a sulfonated tall oil.

Statistically significant reductions in plant yields (at the 95% confidence level) occurred at normal disposal rates with a long-chained aliphatic alcohol, sodium dichromate, diesel oil, guar gum, an iron chromelignosulfonate, lignite, a modified asphalt, a plant fibersynthetic fiber mixture, lignite, a nonfermenting starch, potassium chloride, pregelatinized starch, and sulfated triglyceride.

Thirteen drilling fluid components added individually to a fluid base (water, bentonite, and barite) and then to soil, were also tested for their effect on plant growth. Only the sulfated triglyceride (Torq-Trim®) and the long-chain (high molecular weight) alcohol (Drillaid 405®) caused no plant growth reductions at either rate added. The modified tannin (Desco®) caused minimal reduction in bean growth only when added to soil in “excess” levels. The pregelatinized starch, sodium dichromate, nonfermenting starch (Dextrid®), plant and synthetic fiber mix (Kwik-Seal®), iron chromelignosulfonate (Q-Broxin®), and guar gum (Gendril Thik®) did not depress plant growth at normal disposal rates used, but they did depress plant growth with the abnormally high (excess) rates of addition to soil. No plants grew either normal or excessive addition rates when potassium chloride was used. Also, no plants grew when abnormally high rates of sodium dichromate, lignite + sodium hydroxide, or calcium lignosulfonate + sodium hydroxide were added.

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