SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.44 issue2Biogenic gases in tropical floodplain riverNatural regeneration in a quaternary coastal plain in southern Brazilian Atlantic Rain forest author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand




Related links


Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology

Print version ISSN 1516-8913On-line version ISSN 1678-4324

Braz. arch. biol. technol. vol.44 no.2 Curitiba June 2001 

Reduction of Exchangeable Calcium and Magnesium in Soil with Increasing pH


Mário Miyazawa, Marcos A. Pavan*, Cláudio O. Ziglio and Júlio C. Franchini
Instituto Agronômico do Paraná (IAPAR). Caixa Postal 481, CEP 86001-970, Londrina - PR, Brasil




A laboratory study was conducted with soil samples and synthetic solutions to investigate possible mechanisms related with reduction in KCl exchangeable Ca and Mg with increasing pH. Increasing soil pH over 5.3 with CaCO3 added to the soil and with NaOH solution added to soil/KCl suspension increased adsorptions of Ca and Mg. The reduction of Mg was greater than Ca and was related to the concentration of soil exchangeable Al. The decreases of soluble Ca and Mg following addition of Al in synthetic solution were at pH > 7.5. The isomorphic coprecipitation reaction with Al compounds may be the most possible mechanism responsible for the decrease of exchangeable Ca and Mg with increasing pH. Possible chemical reactions are presented.

Key words: Coprecipitation, aluminum, liming, acid soils




Soil acidity is of major concern in cropping, horticulture, and pasture production in Brazil. Lime applications have proved to be efficient in ameliorating soil acidity. However, high rates of CaCO3, Ca(OH)2 or CaO caused reduction in soil exchangeable Mg (Mgex) resulting in plant nutritional unbalanced (Farina et al., 1980; Grove & Sumner, 1985; Myers et al., 1988). Laboratory studies conducted with soil column showed that although additions of CaCO3 increased Mg concentration in the drainage water, the total amount of Mg leached was less than the amount of Mg reduced in soil (Pavan et al., 1984; Pavan & Roth, 1992). Field studies in apple orchard showed that lime reduced leaf-Mg and fruit yields (Pavan, 1992, 1997). The reduction in Mgex has been attributed to the exchangeable reaction between Ca and Mg following by Mg leaching out of the root zone.

Kinniburgh et al. (1976), Chan et al. (1979), Grove et al. (1981), Grove & Sumner (1985), and Myers et al. (1988) also found that lime reduced Mgex and suggested that other mechanisms are involved in Mg reduction than a simple leaching process. They identified three possible mechanisms for the effect of lime on Mg reduction. In summary these include (1) Mg adsorption in the inter layers of Al(OH)3 (Kinniburgh et al., 1976); (2) coprecipitation of Mg as MgAl(OH)n (Kinnburgh et al., 1976); and (3) adsorption of MgOH+ in the stern layer (Chan et al., 1979).

The objective of this study was to determine the possible mechanisms related to Mgex and Caex reductions in Brazilian soils with increasing pH.



Three experiments were conducted with soil samples collected from the 0-20 cm horizon. The soil samples were air dried and ground to pass through a 2mm screen before being treated. Table 1 shows the chemical characteristics of the soils. Soils 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 were LEd, PV, LEd, TRd, LRd, and LRd, respectively, in according with brazilian soil classification.



Soil incubation with lime: Three soil samples (soils1, 2, and 3, Table 1) were used for this study. One kg of soil sample was incubated in plastic bag with CaCO3 for 120d, moistened to field capacity (0.01MPa) at room temperature. Lime rates were 0.0, 0.25, 0.50, 1.0, and 2.0 times the amount of total acidity (H + Al) extracted by 1 mol L-1 Ca(C2H3O2)2 at pH 7. Following incubation, soil pH was measured in 0.01M CaCl2 (1:2.5 soil:solution ratio) after shaking for 1h; Caex, Mgex, and Alex were extracted with 1 mol L-1 KCl solution in a 1:10 soil:solution ratio and 10 minutes shaking time. Al was determined by titration with standardized 0.015 mol L-1 NaOH solution using bromotymol blue indicator and Ca and Mg determined by atomic absorption spectroscopy. The treatments were replicated three times in a completly randomized block design.

Addition of NaOH in KCl soil suspension:

Three soil samples (soils 4, 5, and 6, Table 1) were used for this study. The procedure was as the following: 5g of soil sample was transferred to 100ml flask; 40ml of 1 mol L-1 KCl solution was added; pH was adjusted daily to 4, 5, 7, and 8 with NaOH solution for 7d. Then, the solution volume was diluted to 50ml with 1 mol L-1 KCl and pH, Ca, Mg, and Al were determined in solution by the same procedures described above.

Effect of Al on Ca and Mg: Ten of 2 x 10-3 mol L-1 Mg Cl2 solution was transferred to 60 ml glass flask and added 10ml of 0, 1, 2, and 4 x 10-3 mol L-1 AlCl3 solution. The solution pH was adjusted daily to 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 with NaOH solution for 3d. For adjusting pH, solution was shaked with magnetic bars and boiled with N2 gas at a flow rate of 100ml min-1 to avoid adsorption of atmospheric CO2 by the solution. Then, the solution volume was diluted to 40ml with deionized water and rested for 3d. Following resting period Mg was determined in solution by atomic adsorption spectroscopy. Similar study was conducted with 2 x 10-3 mol L-1 CaCl2 solution.



Soil incubation with lime: Table 2 shows the effect of soil incubation with CaCO3 on pH, Caex, Mgex, and Alex. Lime to pH > 5.8 reduced Mgex. At pH near to neutrality, the reduction in Mgex was 93, 67, and 55% for soils 1, 2, and 3, respectively. This reduction was related to the initial Alex content (Table 1). The higher the Alex, the greater the Mgex reduction. The reduction of Mgex at pH < 5.0 was minimal, corroborating data presented in previous study with Brazilian soils (Quaggio et al., 1982).



Increasing CaCO3 rates up to pH 4.9 increased Caex (Table 2). The reduction in Caex increased with increasing CaCO3 rates. For example, for 2.0 times H + Al rate, Caex, reduced to 55, 69, and 83% for soils 1, 2, and 3, respectively. At the highest CaCO3 rate the reduction in Mgex was higher than Caex.

Addition of NaOH in KCl soil suspension:

Figure 1 shows the effect of pH on the concentration of Ca, Mg, and Al in KCl suspension for the three soils. Increasing pH decreased KCl exchangeable Mg. The reduction in KCl-Mg at pH 7.3 was an average of 49% for the three soils. Increasing pH also decreased KCl exchangeable Ca. The reduction in KCl-Ca was higher than in KCl-Mg. At pH 7.3 the reduction in KCl-Ca was an average 54% for the three soils. As expected, KCl exchangeable Al was undetected at pH > 5.2.



Effect of Al on Ca and Mg: Figure 2 shows the effect of Al and pH on the concentrations of soluble Ca and Mg (Cas, Mgs). Aluminum started to reduce Mgs at pH higher than 8.4. This pH valuer agreed with that found in a solubility diagram for the formation of MgAl(OH)n presented by Hunsaker & Pratt (1970). Increasing Al concentration at pH > 8.4 decreased drastically Mgs.



The behavior of Cas was similar than Mgs, except for the pH which resulted in the beginning of Ca precipitation (Figure 2). Precipitation of Ca started at pH 7.3. The reduction I n Cas was higher than Mgs for similar pH and Al/M molar ration, were M = Ca or Mg.



Calcium and magnesium are alkaline earth metals with d ifferent salt solubilities. In general, Ca-salts are less soluble that Mg-salts. For example pKs for MgCO3 is 5.0; Mg(OH)2 is 10.7; MgSO4 is soluble; CaCO3 is 8.32; Ca(OH)2 is 5.26 and CaSO4 is 5.92 (Meites, 1963). Mg precipitates in solution only at pH > 10.5 as Mg(OH)2 or at pH > 8.5 as MgCO3 (Lindsay, 1979).

On the other hand, Ca precipitates as Ca(OH)2 at pH > 12.5 or as CaCO3 at pH > 8.0 in an open system (0.0003 atm of CO3). These pH values are much higher than those found for the beginning of Caex and Mgex reductions (Table 2 and Figure 1). Therefore, the reductions in Caex and Mgex in the present study were probably due to precipitation as MgCO3 and CaCO3 or Mg(OH)2 and Ca(OH)2. Both, Ca and Mg started to precipitate at a pH values where KCl exchangeable Al was absent (Table 2 and Figure 1). The concentration of a dissolved ion may decrease in solution due to the formation of a coprecipitate. In other words, during the formation of an insoluble compound, estrange ions may be incorporated in the precipitate (Ohlweiler, 1976). Two types of co-precipitate are characterized: (1) adsorption: estrange ions are adsorbed on the surface of the precipitate, which are easily removed from the solid surface by a simple water percolation, common in crystalline precipitate, and (2) isomorphic: estrange ions are incorporated in the precipitate structure, which are not easily removed by solvents or other ions. This type of coprecipitation is common in amorphous precipitates, formed by metal hydroxides, such as Al3+, Fe3+, Cr3+, Zn2+, and others (Ohlweiler, 1976). The solubility of Al in solution decreased with increasing pH (Table 2 and Figure 1). In the pH range from 5.5 to 7.5, Al(OH)3 was the principal specie (Baes & Mesmer, 1976). The soil KCl exchangeable Caex and Mgex started to precipitate at pH 5.2, while in pure solution, the precipitation started at pH 7.3 and 8.5 for Ca and Mg, respectively. These differences in pH which Ca and Mg started to precipitate is due to different processes in the formation of Al(OH)3 amorphous precipitate in soil and in pure solution.

A precipitate with net negative charge is probably formed due to hydrolysis of the Alex with increasing pH as shown by the following reaction:

Reaction (1) favours adsorption of Ca, Mg, or other metallic cation (M++) on the surface of the precipitate. Therefore, isomorphic coprecipitate of Ca or Mg is formed in soil. Although Al in pure solution was also precipitated in the pH range from 5.5 to 7.5, Ca and Mg reductions were not detected (Figure 2). This result indicated that both cations did not form coprecipitate with amorphous Al(OH)3 3H2O. The electrostatic attraction with cations was extremely low due to the neutral charge of the Al amorphous precipitate.

Increasing pH > 7.5 species with net negative charger are formed in solution, such as Al(OH)-4, Al(OH)2-5, and Al(OH)3-6. These Al species adsorb positive cations on the surface of the precipitate reducing Cas and Mgs. The following reactions are proposed for the reduction of Mg.


Therefore, isomorphic coprecipitation reactions of Mg with Al-compounds are suggested to explain the reduction of Mgex with increasing pH reported for brazilian soils (Chaves et al., 1988; Pavan et al., 1984; Pavan & Roth, 1992). Similar reaction is believed to occur with Ca.

Other metals (Fe3+, Zn2+, Mg2+, and Cu2+) also may form isomorphic coprecipitate with Ca and Mg as suggested by Ohlweiler (1976). However, the concentrations of these metals in soil are so low that their contributions for Ca and Mg reductions are minimal.



The reductions of KCl exchangeable Ca and Mg with increasing pH were due to isomorphic coprecipitation with Al in soil as illustrate by the following reaction:

where M = Ca or Mg




Foram conduzidos experimentos de laboratório com amostras de solo e soluções sintéticas para investigar os possíveis mecanismos de reduções do Ca e Mg trocáveis com o aumento de pH. Os aumentos no pH > 5,3 pelas adições de CaCO3 no solo e NaOH na suspensão solo/KCl aumentaram as adsorções de Ca e Mg. A redução de Mg foi superior a de Ca, sendo relacionada com a concentração de Al trocável do solo. Em soluções sintéticas cotendo Al, as reduções de Ca e Mg ocorreram em pH > 7,5. Atribuíram-se às reações de coprecipitação isomórfica com compostos de Al, como o provável mecanismo de reduções de Ca e Mg com o aumento de pHs. São propostas as prováveis reações químicas responsáveis pelas reduções de Ca e Mg com o aumento de pH.




Baes, C. F. and Mesmer, R. E. (1976), The hydrolysis of cations. New York, John Wiley and Sons. 489p        [ Links ]

Chan, K. Y.; Davey, B. G. and Geering, H. R. (1979), Adsorption of Mg and Ca by a soil with variable charge. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 43, 301-304        [ Links ]

Chaves, J. C. D.; Pavan, M. A. and Miyazawa, M. (1988), Redução da acidez subsuperficial em coluna de solo. Pesq. agropec. bras., 23, 469-476        [ Links ]

Farina, M. P. W.; Sumner, M. E.; Plank, C. O. and Letzsch, W. S. (1980), Effects of pH o soil magnesium and its absorption by corn. Commun. Soil Sci. Pl. Anal., 11, 981-992        [ Links ]

Grove, J. H. and Sumner, M. E. (1985), Lime induced magnesium stress in corn: impact of magnesium and phosphorus availability. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 49, 1192-1196        [ Links ]

Grove, J. H.; Sumner, M. E. and Syers, J. K. (1981), Effect of lime on exchangeable magnesium in variable surface charge soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 45, 497-500        [ Links ]

Hunsaker, V. E. and Pratt, P. F. (1970), The formation of mixed magnesium-alumium hydroxides in soil materials. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc. 34, 813-816        [ Links ]

Kinniburgh, D. G.; Jackson, M. L. and Syers, J. K. (1976), Adsorption of alkaline earth transition, and heavy metal cations by hydrous oxide gels of iron and aluminum Soil Sci. Soc. Am.J. , 40, 796-799        [ Links ]

Lindsay, W. L. (1979), Chemical equilibria in soils. New York, John Wiley and Sons. 449p        [ Links ]

Meites, L. (1963), Hand book of analytical chemistry. New York. McGraw.Hill, 1-49        [ Links ]

Myers, J. H.; McLean, E. D. and Bingham, J. M. (1988), Reductions in exchangeable magnesium with liming of acid Ohio soils. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J., 52, 131-136        [ Links ]

Ohlweiler, O. H. (1976), Química analítica quantitativa. Rio de Janeiro, Livros Técnicos e Científicos, 365p        [ Links ]

Pavan, M. A. (1992), Manejo da calagem em pomares estabelecidos de macieira. Pesq. agropec. bras., 27, 271-276        [ Links ]

Pavan, M. A. (1997), Calcium sources for apple production in Paraná, Brasil. Ci. Cult., 49, 121-123        [ Links ]

Pavan, M. A. and Roth, C. H. (1992), Effect of lime and gypsum on chemical composition of runoff and leachate from samples of a brazilian oxisol. Ci. Cult. 44, 391-394.        [ Links ]

Pavan, M. A.; Bingham, F. T. and Pratt, P. F. (1984), Redistribuition of exchangeable calcium, magensium, and aluminum following lime or gypsum applications to a brazilian oxisol. Soil. Sci. Soc. Am. J., 48, 33-38        [ Links ]

Quaggio, I. A.; Mascarenhas, H. A. A. and Bataglia, O. C. (1982), Resposta da soja à aplicação de doses crescentes de calcário em Latossolo roxo distrófico de cerrado. II. Efeito residual. Rev. Bras. Ci. Solo, 6, 113-118        [ Links ]



Received: October 27, 1999;
Revised: July 31, 2000;
Accepted: August 15, 2000.



*Author for correspondence

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License