Modelling the effects of pH on phosphate sorption by soils

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Samples of six soils were incubated at 60°C for 24 h with several levels of either calcium carbonate or hydrochloric acid. Phosphate sorption was then measured on sub‐samples of the treated soils over 24 h at 25°C. In one set of measurements on all soils, 0.01 M calcium chloride was used as the background electrolyte. In another set, on two soils, 0.01 M sodium chloride was used. An interpolation method was used to give points on the three‐dimensional surface relating the final pH of the suspensions to sorption of phosphate at specified solution concentrations of phosphate. The effects of pH on phosphate sorption differed between soils. For unfertilized soils, increases in pH up to about pH 5.5 decreased sorption. Further increases in pH decreased sorption further in one soil and increased it in three others. For fertilized soils, measured sorption increased with pH. When sodium chloride was used instead of calcium chloride, there was a more marked trend for sorption to decrease as pH increased. Differences between the soils were ascribed to differences in two soil properties. One was the rate at which the electrostatic potential in the plane of adsorption decreased as pH increased. Only small differences in the rate of change of potential were needed to reproduce the observed differences between soils. The electrostatic potential would decrease more quickly in solutions of a sodium salt than in solutions of a calcium salt and this explains the observed differences between these media. The other soil property that affected observed sorption was the release of phosphate from the soil. The amount released was largest at low pH. Consequently, for fertilized soils, measured sorption increased with pH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Soil Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1984


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