Land Quality of an Acid Sulfate Soil Area in Kelantan Plains, Malaysia and its Effect on the Growth of Rice
Keywords:Acid sulfate soil, Al toxicity, heavy metal, land quality, organic fertilizer, rice.
A study was conducted to determine land quality in an acid sulfate soil area in Semerak, Malaysia by studying the soil/water characteristics and their effects on rice growth. Various physico-chemical indicators were selected to assess the quality of the land. A glasshouse experiment was later conducted to alleviate the infertility of the soil for rice cultivation. The treatments were ground magnesium limestone (GML) at the rates of 0, 2 and 4 t/ha, with or without organic fertilizer. Water quality in the paddy fields of the studied area was assessed in terms of its pH, EC, cations (Ca, Mg and K), anions (F, Cl, Br, NO2, NO3, PO4, and SO4) and heavy metal concentration (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb, Zn, and Fe). Results showed that applying GML in combination with organic fertilizer at the rate of 4 t/ha had far reaching ameliorative effects on: 1) soil pH which increased from 3.75 to 5.45; and 2) exchangeable Ca which increased from 0.39 to 1.45 cmolc/kg. This in the end had increased rice yield significantly. The original field water pH was very low, with values mostly about 4, which was far below the critical pH for rice production of 6. Ca and Mg in the water ranged from 26.22 to48.71 and 13.75to17.82 mg/l, respectively. The concentration of Al in the water of the rice fields was 203.07-465.76 ÂµM, while that of Fe was 77.46 to 163.90 ÂµM. The concentrations of these two metals were far above the critical level of 15-20 ÂµM. Sulfate concentration in the water was high, ranging from 283.80 to 629.80 mg/l.Â Heavy metals detected in the water of the rice fields were Mn (0.198-0.906 mg/l), Zn (0.018-0.191 mg/l), As (0.001-0.077 mg/l) and Cu (0.020-0.087 mg/l). This study clearly showed that the quality of the land in the area under study was low; hence, required special agronomic intervention to sustain rice production. GML applied in combination with organic fertilizer at the appropriate rate as proposed in this study is probably the best agronomic practice to alleviate the infertility of the acid sulfate soils for sustainable rice production.
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