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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 23 No. 2, p. 113-116
    Received: July 7, 1958
    Accepted: Aug 1, 1958

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A Chromatographic Approach to the Leaching of Fertilizer Salts in Soils1

  1. G. W. Thomas and
  2. N. T. Coleman2



The chromatographic theory of J. E. Walter was employed in the prediction of K distribution in four North Carolina surface soils representing extremes in texture and cation-exchange characteristics. The soils were made homoionic with respect to Ca, Al, or Na and packed in glass columns. A small volume of KCl solution was applied, then leached with water. K within the column was determined at 1-inch intervals and compared with the distribution predicted by the chromatographic equation.

In the cases of K-Ca and K-Al exchange an adaptation of the Gapon equilibrium constant combined with the Walter equation gave relatively good agreement with experimentally determined K distributions. K-Na exchange did not behave as predicted unless the amount of K added was large in comparison to the amount of Na in the column.

Cation-exchange capacity was an additional factor which influenced the retention of K by soils. Calcium soils adsorbed more K than did Al soils but this was confounded with an increase in “effective” exchange capacity with Casaturation. In general, the K distribution was described quite reasonably by the equation, but K retention at the top of the columns was consistently lower than predicted by theory.

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