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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Effect of pH on Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity and Soil Dispersion1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 48 No. 1, p. 50-55
    Received: Dec 16, 1982
    Accepted: Sept 9, 1983

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  1. D. L. Suarez,
  2. J. D. Rhoades,
  3. R. Lavado and
  4. C. M. Grieve2



The adverse effects of exchangeable sodium on soil hydraulic conductivity (K) are well known, but at present only sodicity and total electrolyte concentration are used in evaluating irrigation water suitability. In arid areas, high sodicity is often associated with high dissolved carbonate and thus high pH, but in humid areas high sodicity may be associated with low pH. To evaluate the effect of pH (as an independent variable) on K, solutions with the same SAR and electrolyte level were prepared at pH 6, 7, 8, and 9. Saturated K values were determined at constant flux in columns packed at a bulk density of 1.5 Mg m−3. At pH 9, saturated K values were lower than at pH 6 for a montmorillonitic and a kaolinitic soil. For a vermiculitic soil with lower organic carbon and higher silt content, pH changes did not cause large K differences. Decreases in K were not reversible on application of waters with higher electrolyte levels. The results from the K experiments were generally consistent with optical transmission measurements of dispersion. Although anion adsorption was at or below detection limits and cation exchange capacity (CEC) was only slightly dependent on pH, differences in pH effects on K among soils are likely due to differences in quantities of variable-charge minerals and organic matter.

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