Acid Soils and Acid Sulfate Soils

  • Khan Towhid Osman


Soils that have pH values less than 7 are usually called acid soils or acidic soils. The less is the value of pH, the stronger is the acidity. Soils having pH values <5.5 have severe limitations to crop production. Plants may suffer from the toxicity of Al, Mn and Fe, and from the deficiency of Ca, Mg and P in acid soils. Soil acidity also hampers microbial and faunal population, growth and function. Mineralization, nitrification and nitrogen fixation are reduced due to soil acidity. Productivity of most crops is very low and non-profitable in acid soils unless ameliorated with lime and fertilizers. Acid sulfate soils are extremely acidic (pH <4.0; often below 3.0) due to the formation of sulfuric acid from pyrite (FeS2) accumulated in coastal and brackish water environments. Pyrite undergoes redox transformations depending on hydrological conditions. Soils enriched with sulfidic materials usually have a neutral reaction as long as they are saturated with water. When they are drained, the pyrite is oxidized and the soil becomes extremely acidic. Because of their geomorphology, acid sulfate soils can be saline as well. Including 12–13 M ha acid sulfate soils, the global expanse of acid soils is 3950 M ha. Approximately 50% of the world’s potentially arable lands are acidic. Selection of suitable crops, liming and other inputs including fertilizers, irrigation and drainage are necessary for sustainable use of acid soils for agriculture.


Soil reaction Acidity Acid sulfate soils Phytotoxicity Acid tolerant plants Liming Lime requirement 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khan Towhid Osman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ChittagongChittagongBangladesh

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