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Calcium-based polymers for suppression of soil acidification by improving acid-buffering capacity and inhibiting nitrification

Shuwen Hu , Fei Kang , Yunshan Meng , Yanning Ge , Yun Zhang , Haixiang Gao , Xueqin Ren , Jie Wang


Received March 07, 2023,Revised , Accepted May 15, 2023, Available online May 25, 2023

Volume 36,2024,Pages 138-149

Soil acidification is a major threat to agricultural sustainability in tropical and subtropical regions. Biodegradable and environmentally friendly materials, such as calcium lignosulfonate (CaLS), calcium poly(aspartic acid) (PASP-Ca), and calcium poly γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA-Ca), are known to effectively ameliorate soil acidity. However, their effectiveness in inhibiting soil acidification has not been studied. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of CaLS, PASP-Ca, and γ-PGA-Ca on the resistance of soil toward acidification as directly and indirectly (i.e., via nitrification) caused by the application of HNO3 and urea, respectively. For comparison, Ca(OH)2 and lignin were used as the inorganic and organic controls, respectively. Among the materials, γ-PGA-Ca drove the substantial improvements in the pH buffering capacity (pHBC) of the soil and exhibited the greatest potential in inhibiting HNO3-induced soil acidification via protonation of carboxyl, complexing with Al3+, and cation exchange processes. Under acidification induced by urea, CaLS was the optimal one in inhibiting acidification and increasing exchangeable acidity during incubation. Furthermore, the sharp reduction in the population sizes of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and ammonia-oxidizing archaea (AOA) confirmed the inhibition of nitrification via CaLS application. Therefore, compared to improving soil pHBC, CaLS may play a more important role in suppressing indirect acidification. Overall, γ-PGA-Ca was superior to PASP-Ca and CaLS in enhancing the soil pHBC and the its resistance to acidification induced by HNO3 addition, whereas CaLS was the best at suppressing urea-driven soil acidification by inhibiting nitrification. In conclusion, these results provide a reference for inhibiting soil re-acidification in intensive agricultural systems.

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