Model organic compounds differ in their effects on pH changes of two soils differing in initial pH Academic Article uri icon


  • The mechanisms by which organic materials affect soil pH are not fully understood. This study for the first time compared the short-term effect of various model organic compounds on pH change of two soils differing in initial pH (Podosol of pH 4.4 and Tenosol of pH 6.1). Eight organic compounds, representing common compounds in plant residues, were selected based on the number and type of chemical functional groups. The addition of organic acids (acetic, malic, citric, and benzoic acid) reduced soil pH immediately due to H⁺ dissociation. The magnitude of pH decrease depended on the rate of application, degree of dissociation of the acids, and initial soil pH. During a subsequent incubation, pH was slowly restored as these compounds were decomposed. The degree to which pH was restored was reduced with increasing addition rate. The production of H⁺ ions was increased with increasing rate of acid addition and decreased over time. When potassium citrate (organic anion) was added, soil pH increased due to H⁺ consumption upon decomposition. Compounds with amine groups (glucosamine hydrochloride) and less easily decomposable compounds (phenol) did not significantly alter pH during 16-day shaking. Changes in pH after glucose addition were relatively small compared with other compounds and were not expected because hydroxyl chemical groups of glucose are neutral. The present study demonstrated that the addition of model organic compounds to soil caused soil pH to increase, decrease, or remains unaffected. The extent and direction of pH change was dependent on the chemical functional group, addition rate, decomposition, and the initial soil pH.


publication date

  • January 2011