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Potassium forms in calcareous soils as affected by clay minerals and soil development in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Southwest Iran

Abstract

Potassium (K) is known as one of the essential nutrients for the growth of plant species. The relationship between K and clay minerals can be used to understand the K cycling, and assess the plant uptake and potential of soil K fertility. This study was conducted to analyze the K forms (soluble, exchangeable, non-exchangeable and structural) and the relationship of K forms with clay minerals of calcareous soils in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Southwest Iran. The climate is hotter and drier in the west and south of the province than in the east and north of the province. A total of 54 pedons were dug in the study area and 32 representative pedons were selected. The studied pedons were mostly located on calcareous deposits. The soils in the study area can be classified into 5 orders including Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, Alfisols and Vertisols. The main soil clay minerals in the west and south of the study area were illite, chlorite and palygorskite, whereas they were smectite, vermiculite and illite in the north and east of the province. Due to large amount of smectite and high content of organic carbon in soil surface, the exchangeable K in surface soils was higher than that in subsurface soils. It seems that organic matter plays a more important role than smectite mineral in retaining exchangeable K in the studied soils. Non-exchangeable K exhibited close relationships with clay content, illite, vermiculite and smectite. Although the amount of illite was the same in almost all pedons, amounts of structural and non-exchangeable K were higher in humid regions than in arid and semi-arid regions. This difference may be related to the poor reservoir of K+ minerals like palygorskite and chlorite together with illite in arid and semi-arid regions. In humid areas, illite was accompanied by vermiculite and smectite as the K+ reservoir. Moreover, the mean cumulative non-exchangeable K released by CaCl2 was higher than that released by oxalic acid, which may be due to the high buffering capacity resulting from high carbonates in soils.

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The authors appreciate Shiraz University for providing research facilities.

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Correspondence to Sirous Shakeri.

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Shakeri, S., Abtahi, S.A. Potassium forms in calcareous soils as affected by clay minerals and soil development in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province, Southwest Iran. J. Arid Land 10, 217–232 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-018-0052-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-018-0052-8

Keywords

  • clay minerals
  • potassium forms
  • calcareous soils
  • oxalic acid
  • K+ reservoir
  • Iran