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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 3, p. 488-493
    Received: Oct 2, 1978
    Accepted: Feb 22, 1979

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Aluminum Organic Matter in Acid Soils: Buffering and Solution Aluminum Activity1

  1. P. R. Bloom,
  2. M. B. McBride and
  3. R. M. Weaver2



The variation of solution Al3+ activity with pH, the effect of suspending salt solution cation on Al3+ activity, and the buffering intensity were determined for salt solution suspensions of three soil samples and an Al substituted peat that contained one equivalent of Al3+ for each equivalent of carboxyl groups. The soil samples used were a surface and a subsurface horizon of an Inceptisol from New York and a surface horizon of an Oxisol from Brazil. The soils were equilibrated for periods of up to 35 days in 0.02N solutions of the chlorides of K+, Na+, Ca2+, Mg2+, Cu2+ and La3+ with the addition of acid or base. In the pH range 3.9 to 4.9, plots of pH vs. pAl were linear with ΔpAl/ΔpH<2.5, significantly different from the value of 3 predicted by Al(OH)3 solubility. At a given pH, Al3+ activity was a function of the solution cation. The Al substituted peat in 0.02N CaCl2 gave a pH vs. pAl plot very similar to that of the surface horizon of the Inceptisol. Also, the addition of partially rotted leaf humus to the Inceptisol subsoil caused a reduction of Al3+ activity at any given pH even after 35 days of equilibration.

It was concluded that hydrolysis of organically bound Al is a major source of buffering in the pH range of 4 to 5 for dilute salt suspensions of acid soils and that exchange of Al ions from organic matter exchange sites controls the relationship between pH and Al3+ activity in acid soils that have a low amount of permanent charge CEC relative to the quantity of organic matter.

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