AMELIORATION OF TYPIC AND ALBIC NATRAQUALFS USING CALCIUM CHLORIDE

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Abstract

Soils with natric horizons are prevalent in South Central Illinois where Peorian age loess overlies older surfaces underlain by Illinoian till paleosols. Such soils are classified as Natraqualfs and are intermixed with Albaqualfs that do not have natric horizons. The Natraqualfs make up from a few percent to more than 35% of the landscape, with Albaqualfs making up most of the landscape. Warm-season crops of corn and soybean on Natraqualfs are drought susceptible and have reduced yields because of shallow rooting and lesser amounts of plant available stored soil moisture compared with Albaqualfs; however, cool-season crops, such as wheat, have more uniform yields between Natraqualf and Albaqualf soil areas. Na+ was successfully moved to deeper soil depths within the soil when the natric horizon was treated with calcium chloride (CaCl2) and leached with water. Calcium chloride was used rather than calcium sulfate because CaCl2 solubility enhanced Ca++ concentration during the short-term leaching period. Treated and untreated plots were cropped from 2001 to 2004; however, there was no increase in corn or soybean yield during these four growing seasons for treated versus untreated plots, although the Na+ concentration was moved down in the profile from treatment with CaCl2 and leaching.

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