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SOIL ACIDITY

Sandip Patil
LA – 9106
Guide: Prof. Deepa Maheshwari
Department of Landscape Architecture, CEPT University.
Soil acidity occurs when there is a build up of acid in Table 1: Soil description based on pH
the soil. The production of acid in the soils is a natural
process and many soils in the high rainfall areas are pH Soil Description
inherently acidic. Acidification is a slow process but it
is accelerated by agriculture. As soils become more < 5.5 Strongly acid
acidic, plants intolerant of acidic conditions do not
thrive and productivity declines. 5.5 - 5.9 Medium acid

6.0 - 6.4 Slightly acid


Acid soils are found mainly in the eastern part of the
Indo-Gangetic Plain, i.e. in West Bengal, Bangladesh 6.5 - 6.9 Very slightly acid
and the mid-hills region of Nepal, where cropping is
intensive and monsoonal precipitation is high. In 7.0 Neutral
many of these soils, organic matter is also quite low,
resulting in poor buffering capacity and low nutrient 7.1 - 7.5 Very slightly alkaline
contents.
7.6 - 8.0 Slightly alkaline
Causes: 8.1 - 8.5 Medium alkaline
Major reasons for soils to become acidic are:
• rainfall and leaching, > 8.5 Strongly alkaline
• acidic parent material,
• organic matter decay Source: www.donnan.com

• harvest of high-yielding crops


• removal of product from the farm or paddock Table 2: Lime required to counteract acidity caused by
• inappropriate use of nitrogenous fertilizers product removal.
Plant product Lime requirement
Wet climates have a greater potential for acidic soils. kg CaCO3 per tonne
In time, excessive rainfall leaches the soil profile's Lucerne hay 60
basic elements (calcium, magnesium, sodium, and 20% subclover/annual grass 15
potassium) that prevent soil acidity. Soils that develop
from weathered granite are likely to be more acidic 40% subclover/annual grass 30
than those developed from shale or limestone. 60% subclover/annual grass 40
Organic matter decay produces hydrogen ions (H+), 80% submedic/annual grass 50
which are responsible for acidity (an ion is a positively
perennial ryegrass hay 40
or negatively charged element). Like that from
rainfall, acidic soil development from decaying cereal hay 22
organic matter is insignificant in the short term. phalaris/cocksfoot hay 30
Harvest of high-yielding crops plays the most
wheat grain 5 - 10
significant role in increasing soil acidity. During
growth, crops absorb basic elements such as Source: Agricultural Bureau of South Australia
calcium, magnesium, and potassium to satisfy their
nutritional requirements. As crop yields increase, Table 3: Acidification rates for different farming systems
more of these limelike nutrients are removed from *in terms of equivalent of kg lime/ha/year required to neutralise
the field. Compared to the leaf and stem portions of acidity
the plant, grain contains minute amounts of these Farming system Acidification rate*
basic nutrients. Therefore, harvesting high-yielding Extensive grazing 10-25
forages such as bermudagrass and alfalfa affects Improved pasture 50
soil acidity more than harvesting grain does. Cropping 75-100
The natural rate of acidification is accelerated by Cropping (high N input) 400
agricultural practices like use of nitrogen fertilizers. Horticulture (high N input) up to 500
The impact of nitrogen fertilisers on acidification Typical hay paddock 300
depends on the type of fertilizer. Lucerne hay 500-600
Source: Agricultural Bureau of South Australia
• In conditions where rainfall exceeds
evapotranspiration (leaching) during most of the
year, the basic soil cations (Ca, Mg, K) are gradually depleted and replaced with cations helds in colloidal soil
reserves, leading to soil acidity. Clay soils often contain Fe and hydroxy Al, which affect the retention and
availability of fertilizer cations and anions in acidic soils.
• Soil acidification may also occur by addition of hydrogen, due to decomposition of organic matter, acid-forming
fertilizers, and exchange of basic cations for H+ by the roots.
• Soil acidity is reduced by volatilization and denitrification of nitrogen. Under flooded conditions, the soil pH value
increases. In addition, the following nitrate fertilizers -- calcium nitrate, magnesium nitrate, potassium nitrate and
sodium nitrate -- also increase the soil pH value.
• Some alkaline soils have Calcium in the form of limestone that is not chemically available to plants. In this case
sulfuric acid or Sulfur may be added to reclaim the soil.

Removal of product. Obviously the main aim of any Table 4: Lime required to counteract acidity caused by
agricultural production system is to produce saleable fertilizers in acid soils
products. However most agricultural products are Acidification
slightly alkaline so their removal from a paddock or Fertiliser (kg lime/kg of fertilizer)
farm leaves the soil slightly more acidic. The degree minimum maximum average
of acidification will depend on how alkaline the Anhydrous ammonia 0 3.6 1.8
product is and how many kilograms of product are Urea 0 3.6 1.8
removed. Where little actual product is removed from Ammonium nitrate 0 3.6 1.8
the farm, such as in wool production, the system Ammonium sulphate 3.6 7.2 5.4
remains largely in balance. The most acidifying forms DAP (18:20) 1.8 5.4 3.6
of agricultural production are operations such as MAP (10:22) 3.6 7.2 5.4
lucerne hay cutting. For instance the removal of one Goldphos (0:18:0:10) 3
tonne of lucerne hay requires 70 kg of lime to
Superphosphate nil
neutralise the resulting acidity.
Muriate of potash nil
Source: Agricultural Bureau of South Australia
Leaching of nitrogen. Leaching of nitrogen in the
nitrate form is a very important factor in soil acidity. Nitrate is a major nutrient for plant growth. It is supplied either
from nitrogenous fertilisers or atmospheric nitrogen fixed by legumes. When there is more nitrate than the plant
can use, the nitrate is at risk of draining - leaching - below the plants roots and into the ground water system. This
leaves the soil more acidic. Leaching of nitrate can happen through inappropriate use of nitrogen fertilisers and is
more common in intensive production like horticulture - or because the plants are not at a suitable stage of growth
to use the available nitrogen. Pastures based on annual species, the use of long fallow in crop rotations and
heavy applications of nitrogen fertilisers are examples of practices that may increase the risk of nitrate leaching.

Use of nitrogenous fertilisers. The amount of acid added to the soil by nitrogenous fertilizers varies according
to the type of fertiliser. The most acidifying are ammonium sulfate and monoammonium phosphate (MAP),
followed by diammonium phosphate (DAP). Less acidifying are urea, ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia.
Fertilisers such as sodium and calcium nitrate are not acidifying. Superphosphate has no direct affect on soil pH.
However, its application stimulates growth of legumes and clovers which fix nitrogen. This increases the amount
of nitrate nitrogen in the soil increasing the potential for leaching and consequent soil acidification.

Build-up of organic matter. Over the last 50 years the regular use of fertiliser and improved pastures,
particularly subterranean clover, has increased the amount of organic matter in the soil. While organic matter has
many beneficial effects including improving soil structure, the increasing amount of organic matter may make the
soil more acid. However, organic matter will not build up indefinitely, and when an equilibrium is reached the
acidification process stops. It is important to differentiate between a natural build up in organic matter and the
build up that occurs by adding organic material from another site. Where organic matter build up occurs due to
transported material the increased organic matter generally increases pH (less acid).

Rate of Acidification:
The rate at which a soil acidifies depends on:-
• Soil type: Light sandy soils with little clay or organic matter has lower buffering capacity and therefore
acidity develops more quickly than on heavier soils.
• Rainfall: Higher rainfall increases leaching of nutrients which in turn increases acidification.
• Land use: Higher production increases the rate of acidification. Shallow rooted plant systems also increase
acidification compared with deep-rooted plants.

Soil acidification rates vary according to the agricultural production system in use.
Cropping. Product removal and nitrate leaching are usually the most significant factors in a cropping system.
Build up of soil organic matter and the use of nitrogenous fertilisers are mostly secondary factors. The relative
importance of nitrate leaching will depend on the specific pasture / crop rotation. Use of nitrogenous fertilisers
and timing of application will be more important in intensive cropping systems with higher inputs of N fertiliser.
Grazing. Nitrate leaching and build up of soil organic matter are the major causes. Product removal in total is
usually low and the use of nitrogen fertilisers not applicable. It should be noted that the leaching of nitrate is
potentially much less under a perennial pasture than one based on annual species.
Horticulture. Much of the acidity in horticulture is localised around micro irrigation outlets. This is where nitrogen
is applied via the watering system. Excess use of nitrogen fertiliser, consequent nitrate leaching and product
removal are all major contributors to acidity in horticultural production. Irrespective of the production system the
challenge is to manage the causes of acidity to either slow the acidification rate or neutralise the extra acid
through the use of a liming material.

Symptoms
The following symptoms tend to indicate a soil acidity problem:
• Reduced yields
• Poor plant vigour
• Uneven pasture and crop growth (especially acid sensitive plants).
• Poor establishment and persistence of pasture species such as lucerne and phalaris where previously they
grew well.
• Poor nodulation of legumes.
• Stunted root growth.
• Persistence of acid-tolerant weeds (eg sorrel and geranium).
• Increased incidence diseases
• Abnormal leaf colours

Effects:
• Soil acidity has a negative impact on fertility,
Table 5: Effects of acidic soil on plant nutrients
biological activity and plant productivity.
Nutrient Action Outcome
• Plant tolerance and productivity
Potassium Depleted by leaching health problems
• Species and varieties with low tolerance to
acidity will decline in productivity and Calcium Depleted by leaching Poor soil structure
persistence. Greater reliance is placed on acid Magnesium Depleted by leaching Poor soil structure
tolerant plants that are generally not as Phosphorus Deficiency byfixation Poor pasture growth
productive. Molybdenum
• Soil fertility Aluminium Excess Toxic to plants if soil
• Soil pH influences nutrient availability. In reserves are high
strongly acid soils, potassium, calcium and Iron Excess Ties up other
magnesium are depleted due to leaching. Low nutrients eg P
levels of calcium and magnesium can also Source: Agricultural Bureau of South Australia
cause stock health problems such as milk fever
and grass tetany. A lack of calcium can cause soil structural problems.
• Aluminium, if present in the soil, becomes available once pH(CaCl2) goes down to less than 5. Aluminium is
toxic to plants and severely restricts root growth. Acids attack soil minerals and increase net loss of nutrients
from the soil eg. Mn, Cu, Zn.
• In some soils Manganese toxicity will develop around pH (CaCl2) 5.0 although this is unusual in most high
rainfall SA soils

Effects on Biological activity


Soil acidity reduces and even stops the activity and survival of useful soil organisms such as:
• nitrogen fixers
• decomposers Availability of nutrients at various pH values
• nutrient recyclers Acid - Neutral Alkali -
• Organic mats often form on the soil
4 4.5 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10
surface as a result of reduced biological
activity and organic matter not being nitrogen, N
broken down. phosphorus, P
• Soil Structure/Clay Degradation
• The leaching of nutrients and increased potassium, K
availability of clay minerals such as Al calcium, Ca
and Fe can result in a decline in soil magnesium, Mg
structure and some irreversible damage
to the clay content of soil. sulfur, S
• As a result of poor pastures, limited iron, Fe
growth and shallow root depth, recharge
manganese, Mn
under acid soils is greater than under
productive perennial pastures. This will boron, B
contribute to rising water tables and an copper, Cu
increase in the salinity of streams and
dryland salinity. zinc, Zn
• Streams are also more likely to contain nutrients leached out of the soil due to the acidic conditions.

Soil pH
Soil pH is an indication of the alkalinity or acidity of soil. It is based on the measurement of pH, which is based in
turn on the activity of hydrogen ions (H+) in a water or salt solution.
When in balance (pH 7) the soil is said to be neutral. The pH scale covers a continuum ranging from 0 (very
acidic) to 14 (very alkaline or basic). pH scale being logarithmic, a ph difference of 1 is a difference of 10 times.
E.g. pH 5 soils are ten times more acidic than pH 6 soils. It is however uncommon to find soils at either extreme of
range. Under many conditions soils tend to become more acid or alkaline over time if steps are not taken to
maintain a balance.
Soil pH is an important consideration for several reasons; including the fact that many plants and soil life forms
prefer either alkaline or acidic conditions, that some diseases tend to thrive when the soil is alkaline or acidic, and
that the pH can affect the availability of nutrients in the soil.
Soil pH affects the availability of soil constituents to plants and soil micro-organisms. For most plants, the ideal
soil pH (water) test result is pH 6 - 7.5, although many will tolerate pH 5.5 - 8.5. However, the tolerance to
extremes in pH varies between plant species and within species. Therefore, consideration of the need for soil
amelioration will depend on individual circumstances.
The correct pH depends on the crop being produced. Grasses tend to tolerate acidic soils better than legumes, so
liming to pH 5.5 may control acidity without limiting production. Legumes, however, need more calcium and
perform best between pH 6.5 and 7.5: pH 6.0 to 7.0 is best for nutrient availability.

Nutrient availability in relation to soil pH


The majority of food crops prefer a neutral or slightly acidic soil. Some plants however prefer more acidic (e.g.,
potatoes, strawberries) or alkaline (brassicas) conditions.
• During the acidification process the decrease in pH result in a release of positively charged ions (cations) from
the cation exchange surfaces (organic matter and clay minerals). In the short term acidification thus increases
the concentration of potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca) in soil solution.
• Once the cation exchange surface has become depleted of these ions, concentration in soil solution can be
quite low and is largely determined by the weathering rate. The weathering rate in turn is dependent on
presence of easily weathered minerals, surface area, soil texture, soil moisture, pH, concentration of base
cations such as Ca, Mg and K as well as concentration of Aluminium.
• The amount of plant available nutrients is a much more difficult issue than soil solution concentrations. The term
plant available nutrients usually include pools other than soil solution but which are supposed to replenish soil
solution pretty fast e.g. through cation exchange. One reason for including such pools is the plants capability of
releasing organic acids which increase the total soil solution concentration of some cation nutrients that are
important for the plant.
• There is a complex relation between soil solution concentration of Ca, Mg and K and reasonable pH-values,
because Ca, Mg and K are base cations, i.e. cations of strong bases and strong bases are fully dissociated at
the pH-ranges occurring in most natural waters.
• Mineral weathering increases pH by releasing Ca, Mg and K. Soil rich in easily weatherable minerals tends to
have both a higher pH and higher soil solution concentration of Ca, Mg and K.
• Deposition of sulphate, nitrate and to some extent ammonia decrease pH of soil solution essentially without
affecting Ca, Mg and K concentrations whereas deposition of sea-salt increases Ca, Mg and K concentrations
without having much of an effect on soil solution pH.
• Soil solution can be extracted from the soil in many ways, e.g. by lysimeters, zero-tension lysimeters,
centrifugation, extraction with CaCl2, overhead shaking of soil sample with added water, etc.
• Many nutrient cations such as zinc (Zn2+), aluminium (Al3+), iron (Fe2+), copper (Cu2+), cobalt (Co2+), and
manganese (Mn2+) are soluble and available for uptake by plants below pH 5.0, although their availability can
be excessive and thus toxic in more acidic conditions. In more alkaline conditions they are less available, and
symptoms of nutrient defficiency may result, including thin plant stems, yellowing (chlorosis) or mottling of
leaves, and slow or stunted growth.
• pH levels also affect the complex interactions among soil chemicals. Phosphorus (P) for example requires a pH
between 6.0 and 7.0 and becomes chemically immobile outside this range, forming insoluble compounds with
iron (Fe) and aluminium (Al) in acid soils and with calcium (Ca) in calcareous soils.

Soil life and pH


A pH level of around 6.3-6.8 is also the optimum range preferred by most soil bacteria, although fungi, molds, and
anaerobic bacteria have a broader tolerance and tends to multiply at lower pH values. Hence, more acidic soils
tend to be susceptible to souring and putrefaction, rather than undergoing the sweet decay processes associated
with a healthy, living soil. Earthworms, whose feeding and tunnelling activities aerate the soil and speed the decay
of organic matter, immeasurably benefitting the soil, also prefer these near-neutral conditions.
pH and plant diseases
Many plant diseases are caused or exacerbated by extremes of pH, sometimes because this makes essential
nutrients unavailable to crops or because the soil itself is unhealthy. For example, chlorosis of leaf vegetables and
potato scab occur in overly alkaline conditions, and acidic soils can cause clubroot in brassicas.

Determining pH
pH is not constant in soil or water, but varies on a seasonal or even daily basis due to factors such as rainfall,
biological growth within the soil, and temperature changes. Rather, a map of the pH level is a mosaic, varying
according to soil crumb structure, on the surface of colloids, and at microsites. The pH also exhibits vertical
gradients, tending to be more acidic in surface mulches and alkaline where evaporation, wormcasts, and capillary
action draw bases up to the soil surface. It also varys on a macro level depending on factors such as slope, rocks,
and vegetation type. Therefore the pH should be measured regularly and at various points within the land in
question. Methods of determining pH include:
• Two common ways of measuring soil pH are in water and in calcium chloride. The latter is preferred for acidic
sols because results are generally more consistent. pH measured in calcium chloride are generally 0.5 to 1 pH
unit lower than if it is measured in water.
• Observation of predominant flora, especially Calcifuge plants (those that prefer an acidic soil). Observation of
symptoms that might indicate acidic or alkaline conditions, such as occurrence of the plant diseases mentioned
above or salinisation of alkaline soils.
• Use of litmus paper. A small sample of soil is mixed with distilled water, into which a strip of litmus paper is
inserted. If the soil is acid the paper turns red, if alkaline, blue.
• Use of a commercially available electronic pH meter, in which a rod is inserted into moistened soil and
measures the concentration of hydrogen ions.
• It is essential to take into account the method by which pH has been measured. Depending on whether or not
the water has been equilibrated with ambient CO2 pressure or not the pH reported from the same site may be
either high or low.
• This is because the carbon dioxide pressure deep down in the soil might be 10–20 times higher than the
ambient pressure due to decomposition of organic material. The higher carbon dioxide pressure results in more
carbonic acid and hence a lower pH.

Acidity Management
• Apply liming material at a rate based on pH, soil type, land use
• Use acid-tolerant plants. This is a short term option only as the soil continues to acidify with associated
consequences.
• Reduce the rate of acidification to a minimum.
• Sow perennial pasture - deep rooted, more summer active, reduce N leaching.
• Use fertilisers wisely - match plant requirements, monitor plant and soil levels, and use least acidifying N
fertilisers.
• Feed hay onto paddock in which it was cut where possible - recycles nutrients and alkalinity.
• Rotate grazing paddocks.

Altering soil pH
The aim when attempting to adjust soil acidity is not so much to neutralise the pH as to replace lost cation
nutrients, particularly calcium. This can be achieved by adding limestone to the soil, which is available in various
forms:

Liming
• Agricultural lime (ground limestone or chalk).It is
slow reacting, thus its effect on soil fertility and
plant growth is steady and long lasting. Ground
lime should be applied to clay and heavy soils at a
rate of about 500 to 1,000 g/m² . As lime dissolves
in the soil, calcium (Ca) moves to the surface of
soil particles, replacing the acidity. The acidity
reacts with the carbonate (CO3) to form carbon
dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The result is a soil
that is less acidic (has a higher pH).
• Quicklime and slaked lime. The former is
produced by burning rock limestone in kilns. Being
highly caustic, it cannot be applied directly to the
soil. Quicklime reacts with water to produce
slaked, or hydrated, lime, thus quicklime is spread around agricultural land in heaps to absorb rain and
atmospheric moisture and form slaked lime, which is then spread on the soil. Quicklime should be applied to
heavy clays at a rate of about 400 to 500 g/m², hydrated lime at 250 to 500 g/m².
• Coarse textured soils (eg. sands) need less lime than finer textured soils. Also, low organic matter soils need
less lime than peaty soils. A lime requirement test will incorporate these affects when used to determine the
amount of lime needed to raise soil pH. Other factors needed to determine an appropriate lime rate include
target pH of the specific plant, lime quality, application method and economics.
• Lime requirements are expressed in terms of ECCE, which is established on the basis of two components: the
purity of the lime, determined chemically by the calcium carbonate content in the lime material, and the fineness
of the lime material, determined by how much it is ground. The more calcium carbonate and the finer the
material size, the higher the ECCE. Because the ECCE of lime is not always 100 percent, the amount of
material required to provide that percentage must be calculated:
ECCE lime required x 100 = lime required ECCE %
• It takes water to activate the lime reaction, so lime works slowly in dry soil. Even with adequate soil moisture, it
may take a year or more for a measurable change in pH. Since neutralization involves a reaction between soil
and lime particles, mixing lime with soil increases the efficiency of acidity neutralization. Test soil periodically
when growing high-yielding perennial forages to identify lime deficiency early enough to change the pH with
unincorporated broadcast applications.

Economics: Research data shows that responses to lime can be profitable. Most economic advantage is
achieved by liming highly productive or perennial pastures.
• Perennial pasture: phalaris/subclover. Most economic rate is 3.5t/ha, which is sufficient to increase subsoil pH.
• Annual pasture: annual ryegrass/subclover. Most economic rate is 1.5t/ha, but is insufficient to improve subsoil
acidity.

Benefits of liming
• Raises soil pH.
• A well balanced soil pH is important for: soil fertility and nutrient availability plant species that can be grown
biological activity of the soil
• Pasture vigour and productivity
• Lime application increases pasture productivity. Trials throughout the Mt Lofty Ranges showed increases in
productivity up to 35%.
• Livestock health
• Increased calcium and magnesium levels in the plant helps to overcome problems such as grass tetany in
cattle.
• Maintaining a favorable pH is extremely important in a soil fertility management plan. Routine soil testing
reveals soil pH levels and provides liming recommendations. All too often, producers lose forage production by
ignoring lime deficiency in soils with acidity problems.

Calcium sulfate, known as gypsum can be used to amend soil acidity and is also useful for lightning the structure
of heavy clays.

The pH of an alkaline soil is also lowered by adding sulfur, iron sulfate or aluminum sulfate, although these tend
to be expensive, and the effects short term. Urea, urea phosphate, ammonium nitrate, ammonium phosphates,
Table 6: ECCE* Lime required ammonium sulfate and monopotassium phosphate also lower soil pH.
(tones)
As acidity is a slow process and the correction of acidity by liming is
Buffer index pH 6.8 pH 6.4 also slow where possible soils need to be limed before acidity is having
>7.1 none none an effect.
7.1 0.5 none Cut
7.0 0.7 none Buffering
The most important source of buffering in an acidic soil is the exchange of the
6.9 1.0 none limelike elements–mostly calcium–attached to the surface of soil particles. As
6.8 1.2 0.7 the crop removes these elements from the soil solution, attached elements
6.7 1.4 1.2 move from the soil particles to replenish the solution. In time, reserve elements
6.6 1.9 1.7 are depleted enough to cause acidity. When you apply lime, consider the size
of the reservoir or buffering capacity. Typically, clay soils have a larger
6.5 2.5 2.2 reservoir than sandy ones, which means that they require more lime to achieve
6.4 3.1 2.7 a favorable pH. Pay attention to the buffer index or pH on the soil test because
6.3 3.7 3.2 it is an indirect estimate of the soil reservoir's size. Because the lab test
involves adding basic material to soils with a pH less than 6.5 and then
6.2 4.2 3.7
remeasuring pH, the buffer pH is larger when the reservoir is small (table 1). If
the buffer pH is 6.8, then it will take 1.2 tons of effective calcium carbonate equivalents (ECCE) of lime to raise
the pH to 6.8 and 0.7 ton to increase it to 6.4.

Soil Acidity in India:


Acid soils are estimated at more than 800 million hectares world wide. In India, it is about 100 million hectares of
the total geoghraphical area. State wise area of Acid Soil Regions (ASR) is given in table below. More than 80%
of the cultivable lands in the ASR are rainfed and there is wide variation in the total annual rainfall and its
distribution in different agroclimatic zones. The cropping system under rainfed conditions depends upon rainfall
distribution, the total rainfall and the moistures storage capacity of the soil. Among the 8 broad soil groups in
Orissa, the laterites and lateritic soils, red soils, mixed red and yellow soils, mixed red and black soils and brown
forest soils are generally acidic in reaction. The upland soils of sedimentary nature are also acidic because of the
presence of excess soluble sulphates and chlorides. Acid soils are more concentrated in the inland districts rather
than the coastal plains. There is a wide variation in pH are seen within the same groups of acid soils. The pH of
lateritic soils from various regions of Orissa ranged from 4.2 to 6.7 and that of red soils from 4.5 to 6.5. The mixed
red and black soils of Nayagarh are relatively more acidic (pH 4.7 to 5.2). Brown forest soils are mildly acidic (pH
6.3 to 6.5).

Table 7: Acid Soil Regions (ASR) in India (*Area in million hectares)

Sl. Name of the State Total Area* Area under acid Percentage of
No. soil* Total Area %

1 Assam & N.E. States 25.0 20.0 80

2 West Bengal 8.8 3.5 40

3 Bihar & Jharkhand 17.4 5.2 33

4 Orissa 15.6 12.5 80

5 Madhya Pradesh & Chhatisgarh 44.3 8.9 20

6 Andhra Pradesh 27.7 5.5 20

7 Tamil Nadu 13.0 2.6 20

8 Karnataka 19.2 9.6 50

9 Kerala 3.9 3.5 90

10 Maharashtra 30.8 3.1 10

11 Uttar Pradesh 29.4 2.9 10

12 Himachal Pradesh 5.6 5.0 90

13 Jammu & Kashmir 22.2 15.5 70

Cropping Systems for Acid Soil Region :


Traditionally, farmers of Acid Soil Regions (ASR) have been growing rice irrespective of the type of land (Upland,
Medium land & low land). Rice has certain amount of tolerance to soil acidity; and flooding of the field also creates
favourable condition (increase in pH and availability of P, Si and K) for growth of rice. Liming is desirable for
raising the productivity of several crops. The acid sensitive crops like cotton, soybean, groundnut, french bean,
pigeon pea etc. are better adaptable to acid soils with proper liming. Crops are classified according to their
relative response to liming. This information can be utilised in fixing suitable cropping sequence. Under rainfed
conditions, highly responsive crops like cotton, soybean, pigeon pea etc. may be grown in the first year of liming,
followed by medium response crops like maize and wheat in the subsequent seasons. The low responsive crops
like millets, rice, barley, linsed etc. may be grown when the effect of liming has been further reduced. Soil erosion
and shifting cultivation are major problems in hilly-tracts of ASR. Agri-horticultural and agro forestry systems need
to be introduced in such tracts. In general, regions receiving more than 900 mm rainfall and with a moisture
storage capacity of 200 mm in the root zone, double cropping can be taken up.
Cropping pattern
(a) Rainfed Areas
Type of land Crops Inter cropping / sequence cropping
Higher elevation Mesta, Pigeonpea, Maize, Groundnut Inter cropping of pigeonpea + Groundnut
Medium land Finger millet, Rice (Short duration) Rice, Finger millet, Maize Horsegram, Cowpea
Low Rice Rice-Pulse, Rice-Rapeseed

(b) Irrigated Area


Kharif Rabi Summer
Rice Cabbage Lady's finger
Green pea Rice Rice
Medium land (BBSR)
Rice Tomato Cowpea
Rice Potato Lady's finger
Rice Groundnut -
Chiplima (Medium land) Rice Green pea Rice
Green pea Rice Rice

Table 8: Lime Required to raise pH to 6.5 (kg/ha)

Sl. pH Range Soil Type


No. Sandy Sandy loam Loam Silt loam Clay &
loamy clay

1 4.5 to 5.0 (For pure CaCo3) 4250 7250 10750 15000 20000

Equivalent quantity of paper 5600 9600 14300 20000 26600


mill sludge
Average 15220 15 ton

2 5.1 to 5.5 (Pure CaCo3) 2500 4250 6250 8500 11300

Equivalent quantity of paper 3300 5600 8300 11300 15000


mill sludge
Average 8700 8.5 ton

3 5.6 to 6.0 (pure CaCo3) 1000 1750 2500 3500 5000

Equivalent quantity of paper 1300 2300 3300 4600 6600


mill sludge
Average 3620 Kg. 3.5 ton
Bibliography:

• Indian Agricultural Research Institute, www.iari.org


• Indian Council of Agricultural Research publications
• Agricultural Bureau of South Australia, www.bettersoils.com.au
• www.wikipedia.com
• www.donnan.com
• Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia, www.dpi.vic.gov.au
• Noble Foundation, www.noble.org
• State of the Environment, Report for South Australia, www.dwlbc.sa.gov.au
• Stephan Hunger, Soil Acidity & Leaching, ebook
• NSW Government Leaflet, Acid soil action initiative