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Plant and Soil

, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 53–63 | Cite as

Processes of soil acidification during nitrogen cycling with emphasis on legume based pastures

  • N. S. Bolan
  • M. J. Hedley
  • R. E. White
Article

Abstract

In areas that remain unaffected by industrial pollution soil acidification is mainly caused by the release of protons (H+) during the oxidation of carbon (C), sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) compounds in soils. In this review the processes of H+ ions release during N cycling and its effect on soil acidification are examined. The major processes leading to acidification during N cycling in soils are: (i) the imbalance of cation over anion uptake in the rhizosphere of plants either actively fixing N2 gas or taking up NH4 + ions as the major source of N, (ii) the net nitrification of N derived from fixation or from NH4 + and R-NH2 based fertilizers, and (iii) the removal of plant and animal products containing N derived from the process described in (i) and losses of NO3-N by leaching when the N input form is N2, NH4 + or R-NH2. The uptake of excess cations over anions by plants results in the acidification of the rhizosphere which is a “localized” effect and can be balanced by the release of hydroxyl (OH-) ions during subsequent plant decomposition. Nitrification of fixed N2 or NH4 + and R-NH2 based fertilizers, and loss of N from the soil either by removal of products or by leaching of NO3-N with a companion basic cation, lead to ‘permanent’ acidification.

Key words

acidification ammonia uptake hydroxyl ion leaching nitrate uptake nitrogen fixation proton rhizosphere 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. S. Bolan
    • 1
  • M. J. Hedley
    • 1
  • R. E. White
    • 1
  1. 1.Fertilizer and Lime Research CentreMassey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

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