UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
HAROLD MOWRY, Director
Some Major Factors in the Leaching of
Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur and Nitrogen
From Sandy Soils
A Lysimeter Study
G. M. VOLK and C. E. BELL
Single copies free to Florida residents upon request to
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
BOARD OF CONTROL
N. B. Jordan, Chairman, Quincy
Thos. W. Bryant, Lakeland
M. L. Mershon, Miami
J. Henson Markham, Jacksonville
J. Thos. Gurney, Orlando
J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee
John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of the
H. Harold Hume, D.Sc., Provost for Agricul-
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Director
L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Asst. Dir., Research
W. M. Fifield, M.S., Asst. Dir., Admin.*
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editors
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Associate Editors
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant Editor3
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
Ruby Newell, Administrative Managers
K. H. Graham, LL.IT., Business Managers
Claranelle Alderman, Accountants
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE
W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist'
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Agronomist
G. E. Ritchey, M.S., Agronomist2
G. B. Killinger, Ph.D., Agronomist
R. W. Bledsoe, Ph.D., Agronomist
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate
Roy E. Blaser, M. S., Associate
H. C. Harris, Ph.D., Associate
Fred A. Clark, B.S., Assistant
A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., An. Industrialist1 '
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman3
E. L. Fouts, Ph.D., Dairy Technologist8
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., Veterinarian'
L. E. Swanson, D.V.M., Parasitologist*
N. R. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Husb.3
G. K. Davis, Ph.D., Animal Nutritionist
T. R. Freeman, Ph.D., Asso. in Dairy Mfg.
R. S. Glasscock, Ph.D., An. Husbandman
D. J. Smith, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4
P. T. Dix Arnold, M.S.A., Asst. Dairy Husb.'
C. L. Comar, Ph.D., Asso. Biochemist
L. E. Mull, M.S., Asst. in Dairy Tech.4
J. E. Pace, B.S., Asst. An. Husbandman4
S. P. Marshall, M.S., Asst. in An. Nutrition4
C. B. Reeves, B.S., Asst. Dairy Tech.
Katherine Boney, B.S., Asst. Chem.
Ruth Taylor, A.B., Asst. Biochemist
Peggy R. Lockwood, B.S., Asst. in Dairy Mfs.
C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agri. Economist' 3
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associatea
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Associate
Max E. Brunk, M.S., Associate
Ouida D. Abbott, Ph.D., Home Econ.1
R. B. French, Ph.D., Biochemist
J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist'
A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Associate3
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant
G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Horticulturist'
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Hort.
Byron E. Janes, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.
R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Asst. Hort..
R. D. Dickey, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.
Victor F. Nettles, M.S.A., Asst. Hort.4
J. Carlton Cain, B.S.A., Asst. Hort.4
F. S. Lagasse, Ph.D., Asso. Hort.2
W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist' s
Phares Decker, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Path.
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist
Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Asst. Botanist
F. B. Smith, Ph.D., Chemist'1
Gaylord M. Volk, M.S., Chemist5
J. R. Henderson, M.S.A., Soil Technologist
J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
L. G. Thompson, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
L. H. Rogers, Ph.D., Associate Biochemist4
R. A. Carrigan, B.S., Asso. Biochemist
G. T. Sims, M.S.A., Associate Chemist
T. C. Erwin, Assistant Chemist
H. W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant Chemist
Geo. D. Thornton, M.S., Asst. MicrobiologistG
R. E. Caldwell, M.S.A., Asst. Soil Surveyor4
Olaf C. Olson, B.S., Asst. Soil Surveyor*
SHead of Department.
SIn cooperation with U. S.
3 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
SIn Military Service.
5 On leave.
NORTH FLORIDA STATION, QUINCY
J. D. Warner, M.S., Vice-Director in Charge
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
V. E. Whitehurst, Jr., B.S.A., Asst. Animal
Jesse Reeves, Asst. Agron., Tobacco
W. H. Chapman, M.S., Asst. Agron.4
R. C. Bond, M.S.A., Asst. Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Monticello
R. W. Wallace, B.S., Associate Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Milton
Ralph L. Smith, M.S., Associate Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Marianna
R. W. Lipscomb, M.S., Associate Agronomist
Mobile Unit, Wewahitchka
J. B. White, B.S.A., Associate Agronomist
CITRUS STATION, LAKE ALFRED
A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
V. C. Jamison, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
W. L. Thompson, B.S., Entomologist
W. W. Lawless, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist
SC. R. Stearns, Jr., B.S.A., Asso. Chemist
H. O. Sterling, B.S., Asst. Horticulturist
T. W. Young, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
J. W. Sites, M.S.A., Asso. Horticulturist5
J. B. Redd, Ph.D., Insecticide Chemist
EVERGLADES STA., BELLE GLADE
R. V. Allison, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
J. W. Wilson, Se.D., Entomologist4
F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agron.
Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Sugarcane
G. R. Townsend, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. W. Kidder, M.S., Asst. An. Husb.
W. T. Forsee, Jr., Ph.D., Asso. Chemist
B. S. Clayton, B.S.C.E., Drainage Eng.2
F. S. Andrews, Ph.D., Asso. Truck Hort.*
R. A. Bair, Ph.D., Asst. Agronomist
Earl L. Felix, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Path.
C. L. Serrano, B.S.A., Asst. Chemist
SUB-TROPICAL STA., HOMESTEAD
Geo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Vice-Director in
P. J. Westgate, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist
H. I. Borders, M.S., Asso. Plant Path.
W. CENT. FLA. STA., BROOKSVILLE
Clement D. Gordon, Ph.D., Asso. Poultry
Geneticist in Charge2
RANGE CATTLE STA., ONA
W. G. Kirk, Ph.D., Vice-Director in Charge
E. M. Hodges, Ph.D., Associate Agronomist
Gilbert A. Tucker, B.S.A., Asst. An. Husb.4
G. K. Parris, Ph.D., Plant Path. in Charge
A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
E. N. McCubbin, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist
S. 0. Hill, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2 4
A. M. Phillips, B.S., Asst. Entomologist2
J. R. Beckenbach, Ph.D., Horticulturist in
E. G. Kelsheimer, Ph.D., Entomologist
A. L. Harrison, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
David G. Kelbert. Asst. Plant Pathologist
E. L. Spencer, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist in Chdrge
J. C. Russell, M.S., Asst. Entomologist5
E. S. Ellison, Meteorologist2 5
Warren 0. Johnson, Meteorologist2
1 Head of Department.
2In cooperation with U. S.
3 Cooperative, other divisions, U. of F.
In Military Service.
5 On leave.
INTRODUCTION .........................-------------------. --- 5
EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE .....--.....-- -------...........---------------- 6
EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS .....--..-..---.................---------------- 8
Effect of Plant Feeding and Surface Evaporation on
Gravitational Water ........-..-..... ...... ---------....------- 8
Effect of Fertilizer Placement and Plant Feeding on
Nutrient Loss Through Leaching ...........-- ..-- -.......--..----.-- 11
Effect of Lime, Gypsum and Fertilizer Level on the Leaching of
Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur and Nitrogen ..................................... 12
Relative Time of Movement of Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur
and Nitrogen .-............ -----... ..- ---.. --------.... ....-- 15
DISCUSSION .......................-..-- ..------- ---------...--- ------- 15
SUMMARY ..........................---- ----------------------............ ... ....... -------------- 21
LITERATURE CITED ........................................ ... ................... ..... 22
SOME MAJOR FACTORS IN THE LEACHING OF
CALCIUM, POTASSIUM, SULFUR AND NITROGEN
FROM SANDY SOILS
A Lysimeter Study
G. M. VOLK and C. E. BELL
The loss of plant nutrients by leaching is a critical factor in
maintaining the fertility of soils low in exchange capacity.
Collison (2) 1 found that the retention of applied potash by
virgin sandy Florida soils was significant for the first few years
after the soils were brought under cultivation but decreased
thereafter. Peech (8) emphasized the importance of proper
pH control on Norfolk sands to keep base retention as favorable
as possible. Volk and Bell (9) showed that pH is significant in
the retention of potash and ammonia in Norfolk loamy fine
sand but that its control became much less critical in soils of
higher exchange capacity. It is well known that nitrates are
readily removed from all soils by leaching rains (6). Sulfates
also move freely under certain conditions (2, 6), but because
of the relatively low solubility of certain sulfate salts their
mobility may be materially affected by the method of applica-
tion of materials and by other salts added or formed in their
There are 3 major factors determining nutrient loss by leach-
ing. The first and most important is plant absorption. All
types of nutrients may be retained in this manner and subse-
quently returned to the soil in crop residues. This function is
well understood and widely used in fertility conservation prac-
tices. The second factor is the reduction of the volume of
leaching water by transpiration of plants. All types of nutrients
are affected by this function of plants. However, reduction of
loss in this manner is in competition with soil-moisture build-up
for following crops and must be balanced accordingly. The
third type of conservation concerns the characteristics of the
fertilizer materials and soils, and is a complex system involving
the interrelationships between inherent solubilities of nutrients
in various forms and the differential retention powers of different
SItalic figures in parentheses refer to Literature Cited.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
soils. Fertilizer placement and the effects of plant feeding on
nutrient concentration are complicating factors.
The work herein reported was initiated for the purpose of
obtaining more specific information on the significance of plant
feeding and fertilizer placement and compositions on the magni-
tude of nutrient losses under Florida conditions. The study was
confined entirely to large tank-type lysimeters filled with Nor-
folk loamy fine sand.
The value of data obtained from lysimeters of the type used
has always been open to a certain amount of criticism (4). The
greatest difficulties are encountered in soils of heavy texture
and the least with soils sandy in nature. The prevention of
lateral movement of water is necessary in lysimeters of limited
area because capillary action will cause soil water largely to
by-pass a free-drainage subsurface under other conditions.
Lateral movement of water over a free-drainage subsurface is
not a normal action in any sense of the word because it is
brought about by breaking of the vertical capillary column so
that horizontal capillary forces dominate and retard the drop-
ping of water from the free-drainage surface. Horizons of
heavy soil increase this effect not by normal increase of lateral
movement but by reducing gravitational flow so that the laws
of surface tension and cohesion governing capillary movement
become still more effective. The work of Wallihan (10) is an
excellent demonstration of the need of vertical walls in a lysi-
meter filled with heavy soil if a free-drainage collection surface
is to be used and data of any significance are to be obtained.
The work of Kilmer, Hays and Muckenhirn (5) showed that
breaking of the capillary column by the free-drainage surface
characteristic of tank-type lysimeters did not affect surface in-
filtration into Fayette silt loam. It is assumed from this that
data obtained under the conditions of the study herein reported
should be quantitatively applicable to the field conditions simu-
The entire study was carried out in 12 round lysimeters ap-
proximately 63 inches in diameter with an exact area of 1/2,000
of an acre, constructed of sheet iron painted with black as-
phaltum and buried to ground level with the exception that
sufficient projection was left to prevent surface run-off. They
were filled by profile to a depth of 4 feet with virgin Norfolk
loamy fine sand from the vicinity of Gainesville. The subsoil
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 7
consisted of typical light yellow sand free of instrusions of
surface soil organic residues resulting from rodent activities.
All lysimeters were saturated with tap water and allowed to
drain free of gravitational water just prior to the first treat-
ments. Leachates were collected continuously during the period
of the experiment. They were measured and analyzed immedi-
ately for nitrate nitrogen for each consecutive collection between
December 29, 1943, and April 21, 1944. With few exceptions each
collection was limited to a maximum of 1 surface inch equivalent.
The same increments were analyzed for calcium, potassium and
The treatments for the first phase of the study were applied
December 29, 1943, and all lysimeters except those to be kept
fallow were planted to turnips. The turnips were planted in
a concentric ring and thinned to 30 plants per lysimeter. Treat-
ments were in duplicate with the exception that fertilizer was
applied broadcast and incorporated in the surface 4 inches of
soil in 1 replication and applied in double bands 8 inches apart
and 3 inches deep on the sides of the turnip row in the other
replication. Lime was applied broadcast in both instances.
The standard treatment used as a basis of comparison con-
sisted of the following per acre rates:
NH4NO, ........................ ............... 201
KN03 ...............................-- 215
Ca(H2PO )2. H20 ............................... 248
CaS04.2H20 .................................... 748
The preceding formula is equivalent to a ton of 5-7-5 fertilizer
and contains the approximate amount of CaS04 which would
be contributed by 16 to 18 percent superphosphate as a source
of the available phosphorus.
The treatments and practices used were as follows:
Treatment per Acre Practice
Standard ..................................................... ........... 2,000 Cropped
1/ Standard .................................... ....... .............. 1,000 Cropped
Standard minus CaSO.2H20 .......................... 2,000 Cropped
Standard plus 2,000 pounds of precipitated chalk 2,000 Cropped
Standard ...............-.............. .......... ......... ......... .... 2,000 W inter fallow
Standard ...................................... 2,000 Summer fallow
The winter fallow lysimeter was treated similar to the crop-
ped (plots with the exception that it remained unseeded and
all vegetation was kept removed during the first phase of the
experiment. The summer fallow treatment was essentially a
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
duplicate of the standard treated cropped lysimeters during the
first phase of the experiment but was cropped to millet during
the second phase.
Turnips were harvested by pulling on March 24. The lysim-
eters remained undisturbed and leachates were collected until
May 10, when the second phase of the study began.
On May 10 the preceding treatments were repeated with the
following exceptions: Lime was not reapplied. All treatments
were applied broadcast and the 1,000-pound rate was increased
to 2,000 pounds with the exception that CaS4 2H20 remained
at the same level. Pearl millet was seeded broadcast at field
rate and cut once on June 13, prior to the final harvest. The
millet was mature for seed when harvested on August 31. The
experimental period ended September 19. The beginning and
end of any given period of measurement of crop effect on leach-
ing was made to coincide with a period of rainfall sufficient to
saturate all lysimeters and cause them to drain, so that the
differences in soil moisture due to differential treatment would
be measured with respect to the causative factor.
Effect of Plant Feeding and Surface Evaporation on Gravita-
tional Water.-The effect of plant feeding on the proportion of
rainfall leaching through the 4-foot profile of Norfolk loamy
fine sand is presented in Table 1 as a comparison of the cropped
and fallow lysimeters of similar treatment. During the first
period of the study from December 29 to March 27, 13.15 inches
of rain fell. Of this quantity 9.28 inches, or 70.6 percent, passed
through the fallow lysimeters and 4.98 inches, or 37.9 percent,
passed through the lysimeters in which turnips were growing.
This indicates that 29.4 percent of the rainfall was lost through
evaporation from the fallow soil and at least 32.7 percent of the
rainfall was utilized by the crop. Utilization by the crop was
probably somewhat better because shading and lower average
soil moisture level under the turnips would reduce surface
During the second period of the rainfall utilization study, from
May 10 to September 2, 21.63 inches of rain fell. Of this quan-
tity 11.42 inches, or 52.8 percent, passed through the fallow lysi-
meters and only 4.23 inches, or 19.6 percent, passed through
the lysimeters growing a crop of millet. Evaporation from the
fallow lysimeters was, therefore, 47.2 percent of the rainfall
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 9
and crop utilization was 33.2 percent of the rainfall plus any
reduction in soil evaporation due to effect of the crop as pre-
TABLE 1.-EFFECT OF PLANT FEEDING AND EVAPORATION ON THE PROPOR-
TION OF RAINFALL LEACHING THROUGH A 4-FOOT PROFILE OF NORFOLK
LOAMY FINE SAND.
Water Passing Through
Rainfall 4-Foot Profile
Practice _of 2 Lysimeters
I Percent of
From To Inches Inches I Rainfall
13.15 9.28 70.6%
13.15 4.98 37.9%
21.63 11.42 52.8%
21.63 4.23 19.6%
45.09 28.00 62.1%
45.09 17.09 37.9%
Fallow ........ 12/29/43 3/27/44
Turnips ...... 12/29/43* 3/27/44**
Fallow ........ 5/10/44 9/2/44
Millet ........ 5/10/44* 9/2/44**
Fallow ........ 12/29/43 9/19/44
Croppedt .. 12/29/43 9/19/44
**Turnips harvested 3/24/44. Millet harvested 8/31/44.
tAs listed above.
The cumulative effect of the cropping practice for the entire
period of the rainfall utilization study from December 29 to
September 19 was determined by combining data from the 2
lysimeters which were in the fallow condition for the periods
during which they were fallow and comparing to the standard
treatment cropped to turnips and millet consecutively. This
comparison is valid because the division point in data from
winter fallow and summer fallow lysimeters was at a time when
all lysimeters had reached saturation by recent rains.
During the entire period of the study 45.09 inches of rain
fell, of which 28.00 inches, or 62.1 percent, passed through the
fallow soil and 17.09 inches, or 37.9 percent, passed through the
cropped soil. The loss due to evaporation from fallow soil was,
therefore, 37.9 percent of the rainfall and the difference due
to the cropping practice was 24.2 percent of the rainfall.
The effect of accumulation and intensity of rainfall on the
volume of gravitational water passing through the 4-foot profile
of Norfolk loamy fine sand during the period of millet growth
is presented in Fig. 1. The points represent the inches of rain-
fall or leachate accumulation during the 30-day period preced-
ing the date at which plotted on the graph. This method of
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
plotting was used because leaching is a function of both accumu-
lation and intensity of rainfall.
The difference between rainfall and leaching from fallow lysim-
eters for 30-day periods ranges from approximately 11/2 to 4
inches. The evaporation loss is highest during periods of most
rainfall, provided that it is reasonably well distributed. Leach-
ing did not begin until the 30-day accumulated rainfall reached
-----Passing fallow soil
-- Passing cropped soil
profile of Norfolk amy fine sand. Millet was planted May 10 and har
Sa 3 a t .
m / I"
/ /-- -
Fig 1.-Effects of millet crop on leaching of water through a 4-foot
profile of Norfolk loamy fine sand. Millet was planted May 10 and har-
vested August 31. Inches of water plotted are 30-day accumulation to date.
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 11
Loss of water through leaching from cropped lysimeters did
not begin until the 30-day accumulation reached 7.4 inches. As
the 30-day accumulation of rainfall continued to increase above
this point the leaching increased in direct proportion.
Effect of Fertilizer Placement and Plant Feeding on Nutrient
Loss Through Leaching.-Table 2 shows the comparison of band
placement to broadcast application of fertilizer on assimilation
of nutrients by turnips and the effect on leaching from both
cropped and fallow soils. Turnips contained 44.2 pounds of cal-
cium, 66.4 pounds of potassium, 17.2 pounds of sulfur and 56.0
pounds of nitrogen per acre in the entire plant as pulled 86
days after planting with broadcast standard application. The
amounts under band application were 45.8, 59.3, 15.3 and 59.1,
respectively. The leaching loss of calcium, potassium and sul-
fate sulfur from the cropped lysimeters was higher from the
broadcast application. Calcium loss was 29 percent, potassium
loss 32 percent and sulfate sulfur loss 233 percent higher. Nitro-
gen loss as nitrate was 6.6 percent higher from the band place-
TABLE 2.-EFFECT OF FERTILIZER PLACEMENT AND PLANT FEEDING ON THE
LEACHING OF FERTILIZER NUTRIENTS FROM A 4-FOOT PROFILE OF NORFOLK
LOAMY FINE SAND FOLLOWING AN APPLICATION OF 2,000 POUNDS OF
Inches Pounds per Acre
Place- of Total Nitrate
ment Leach- Cal- Potas- Nitro- Nitro-
ate cium slum Sulfur gen gen
Application _231 83 153 100
Assimilated Broadcast 44.2 66.4 17.2 56.0
3/24/44** Band 45.8 59.3 15.3 59.1
Leached from Broadcast 11.6 36.6 0.82 19.3 13.6
4/21/44t Band 11.3 28.3 0.62 5.8 14.5
Leached from Broadcast 15.8 144.8 3.30 40.4 112.8
4/21/44 Band 15.4 110.9 8.85 9.1 112.3
*Composed of NH4NOs, Ca(H2PO4)2.H20, KNO3 and CaSO. 2H20 in proportions to
supply elements at given rate of application.
**By analysis of total plant at harvest.
fCropped by turnips above.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Leaching losses from the standard-treated fallow lysimeters
were higher than from the cropped lysimeters in all instances,
as would be expected because of the larger volume of gravi-
tational water. The leaching loss of calcium and sulfur from
fallow lysimeters was higher from the broadcast application
than from band placement, while nitrogen loss was approxi-
mately equal. Calcium loss was 31 percent and sulfate sulfur
loss 344 percent higher. Potassium loss was higher from the
band placement by 168 percent. The nitrate nitrogen loss from
the fallow lysimeters exceeded the total nitrogen application in
both instances. The losses from the broadcast application ex-
pressed as percent of the calcium, potassium, sulfur and nitrogen
applied was 63 percent, 3.9 percent, 26 percent and 113 percent,
Effect of Lime, Gypsum and Fertilizer Level on the Leaching
of Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur and Nitrogen.-A comparison of
leachates from the standard treatment, the standard treatment
plus lime and the standard treatment less gypsum is presented
in Table 3. The original pH of the virgin surface soil was 6.4.
The pH varied from 0.2 to 0.5 unit below this value in the un-
limed soils after treatment during the period of the investiga-
tion. A ton of precipitated chalk raised the pH approximately
1.2 units above the standard treatment without lime. This
placed the pH of limed lysimeters slightly above 7.0 and the
pH of the unlimed in the vicinity of 6.0. The amounts of water
passing through the lysimeters were comparable for the standard
and limed treatments. However, the amount of water passing
through the lysimeters receiving no gypsum was approximately
11 percent higher, presumably because of less plant growth.
Calcium loss was highest from limed lysimeters, as would be
expected. Loss from the limed lysimeters was 62 percent higher
than the loss from the standard treatment where fertilizer was
broadcast and 27 percent higher where banded. Calcium loss
from the no-gypsum treatment was 11 percent larger in the
first instance and 6 percent less in the second.
Potassium loss from the limed lysimeters was 7 percent larger
than the standard treatment loss where broadcast and 6 percent
larger where banded.
The leaching of sulfate sulfur from the limed lysimeters was
74 percent higher than that from the standard treatment when
fertilizers were applied broadcast and 16 percent higher when
banded. Loss from the no-gypsum treatments was only 12 per-
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 13
cent of the standard in the first instance and 60 percent in the
TABLE 3.-EFFECT OF LIME, GYPSUM AND FERTILIZER LEVEL ON THE LEACH-
ING OF CALCIUM, POTASSIUM, SULFATE-SULFUR AND NITRATE-NITROGEN
FROM A 4-FOOT PROFILE OF NORFOLK LOAMY FINE SAND CROPPED TO
pH Yield Assimilated by Plants**
Treatment* Place- After Pounds Pounds per Acre
ment Treat- per Cal- Potas- Nitro-
ment Acre cium sium Sulfur gen
broadcast 6.21 1,848 44.2 66.4 17.2 56.0
Standard band 5.90 1,945 45.8 59.3 15.3 59.1
broadcast 6.19 1,868 49.2 50.4 15.8 40.8
1/2 Standard band 6.23. 1,868 47.5 48.3 13.7 44.7
Standard broadcast 7.36 1,903 54.7 61.8 15.1 56.9
Plus Lime band 7.12 1,692 42.6 55.3 14.3 54.1
Standard broadcast 6.18 1,418 41.2 50.2 8.9 50.6
Less Gypsum band 6.23 1,498 38.3 54.8 9.7 56.1
Iof Pounds per Acre Leached
Leach- 12/29/43 to 4/21/44
*Standard composed of NH4NO3, Ca(HzPO4)2.H2O, KNO3, CaSO4.2H20 at rate to
supply 100 pounds N, 83 pounds K, 231 pounds Ca, and 153 pounds S per acre. 2,000
pounds precipitated chalk applied broadcast to both band and broadcast of standard plus
lime treatment. Treated and seeded 12/29/43.
**By analysis of entire pulled plants on 3/24/44.
Nitrate nitrogen loss from the limed lysimeters was 70 per-
cent higher than the loss from the standard treatment where
broadcast and 49 percent higher where banded. The loss from
tee no-gypsum treatment was 175 percent higher than the
standard where broadcast and 35 percent higher where banded.
Banding appeared to have a remarkable effect on the leaching
of nitrates in the absence of gypsum. The loss from the band
___ 2/15/44 2/15/44
.0 3/26/44 3/26/44-/
Fig. 2-Concentration of ions in leachates from fallow soil under standard treatment. Treatment: 2,000
S 4/3/44 4 A,
0-_ i -- 4/21/44
Fig. 2.-Concentration of ions in leachates from fallow soil under standard treatment. Treatment: 2,000
pounds 5-7-5 fertilizer containing NHINO3, KNOs, Ca(H=P04) H=O and CaSO. 2 H2O at rates to supply
231 pounds of calcium and 153 pounds of sulfur in addition to the formula.
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 15
applications was only 52 percent of that from the broadcast
Loss of nutrients from the 1/2 standard treatment was less
than from the standard treatment in all instances but was higher
in proportion to the amount applied.
Relative Time of Movement of Calcium, Potassium, Sulfur and
Nitrogen.-The effect of time and volume of gravitational water
on the concentration of various ions in the leachate is presented
in Figs. 2, 3, 4 and 5. Data are plotted in milliequivalents per liter
against volume of leachate so that the probable salts leaching
at various times may be more readily apparent. The move-
ment of calcium was predominantly in the form of Ca(NO3)2
in both band and broadcast application during the first 3 months
after treatment. Movement of sulfates did not materially in-
crease until nitrate nitrogen had passed its crest of concentra-
tion. In the broadcast application the sulfate increased there-
after and the form of the salt was predominantly CaS04, while
with the band treatment it continued to remain at a relatively
low level. The concentration of potassium from the fallow broad-
cast treatment remained low with slight fluctuations reflecting
the crests of nitrate and sulfate concentration. On the other
hand, where the fertilizer was placed in bands potassium showed
a much greater response to both crests in the fallow treatment.
Under the crop potassium concentration in the leachate was
very low and showed the most marked response to the nitrate
crest. The higher level of total potassium leached from cropped
broadcast treatments correlates with both nitrate and sulfate
crests of concentration. These data do not appear in Figs.
3, 4 and 5 because of their low magnitude.
It is apparent that the most significant function of plants in
nutrient retention is assimilation of nutrients into their tissues
and sap. In the case of the turnips growing under the 1,000-
pound rate of 5-7-5 this accounted for an equivalent of 118
percent of the potassium, 86 percent of the nitrogen, 41 percent
of the calcium and 19 percent of the sulfur applied. Attendant
reduction in water movement through the soil was approxi-
mately 40 percent for the entire period of the study, and would
account for a proportionate reduction in loss of readily mobile
nutrients not utlizied by the crop. The turnips crop effected a
m.e. per liter from band application m.e. per liter from broadcast application
4/ 3/26/44 3/26/44
S/ 4/2 /
tion to the formula.
!/-1 _--4/2,/44 _, 4/2,/44
Fig. 3.-Concentration of ions in leaehates from soil cropped to turnips under standard treat-
ment. Treatment: 2,000 pounds of 5-7-5 fertilizer containing NHINO,, KNOI, Ca(H-2P04)2. IHO
and CaSO. 2 I-O at rates to supply 231 pounds of calcium and 153 pounds of sulfur in addi-
tion to the formula.
me. per liter from band application
. _-... .3/26/44
m.e. per liter from broadcast application
Fig. 4.-Concentrations of ions in leachates from cropped soil under a standard treatment plus chalk. Treatment:
2,000 pounds of 5-7-5 fertilizer containing NH4NOa, KNOs, Ca(H2PO)2. ILO and CaSO4.2H=0 at rates to supply 153
pounds of sulfur in addition to the formula, and 2,000 pounds of chalk broadcast.
N) IZ 0
----1/9/44 --- 1/9/44
V I I
/- 34/21/44 Ii 4/21/44
Fig. 5.-Concentration of ions in leachates from cropped soil under standard treatment less gypsum.
Treatment: 2,000 pounds of 5-7-5 fertilizer containing NHaNO3, KNO3 and Ca(H2P04),.H=0.
m.e. per liter from band appliicat ion
m.e. per liter from broadcast application
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 19
50 to 90 percent reduction in leaching loss as measured by
analysis of leachates where nutrients were applied. The fact
that leaching from the fallow soil began when the monthly ac-
cumulation of rainfall was only 1.7 inches but that the millet
crop prevented leaching until the monthly accumulation reached
7.4 inches indicates that an actively growing crop would prevent
leaching loss from the surface 4 feet of soil for all but the few
days of the year when precipitation is highly concentrated.
The major loss of nutrients takes place when vegetative cover
is sparse or absent. Obviously, the maintenance of ground cover
as continuously as practical is the most important method of
nutrient conservation in sandy soils.
The proper balance between nutrient and moisture conserva-
tion must be maintained to obtain maximum nutrient efficiency.
A sufficient period must be allowed between turning or cutting
down of a cover crop and planting the succeeding crop to allow
for the buildup of adequate soil moisture for seed germination
and to prevent competition for nitrogen between the decompos-
ing crop residue and the growing crop. Soiling or cover crops
should be turned at a time which will release nutrients to plants
in the most favorable manner in keeping with moisture con-
servation. Proper management must take into consideration
rainfall expectancy and factors such as C/N ratios and soil tem-
peratures which affect the rate of decomposition of crop residues.
The buildup of soil moisture under a given set of conditions
will be more rapid in cold weather than in hot weather because
of the difference in surface evaporation. Under conditions of
the experiment 29.4 percent of the rainfall between December
29 and March 27 was lost by surface evaporation from fallow
soil, whereas 47.2 percent was lost between May. 10 and Septem-
Several factors affect the solubility and therefore the mo-
bility and loss of nutrient ions from the soil. The effect of con-
centration on solubility is remarkable in the case of the sulfate
applied in bands as compared to broadcast application. The
loss from band placement was only 20 to 30 percent of that from
broadcast placement. It follows that residual effects of sulfur
following band placement of CaSO4-bearing materials should
be greater than from broadcast placement. It is also possible
that limited quantities of CaS04 in the band would not produce
the growth response that would result from the same amount
broadcast. There are indications that the probability of this
Florida, Agricultural Experiment Station
effect is such as to justify its consideration in interpreting data
on sulfur responses. The value of sulfur as a fertility nutrient
is receiving considerable attention at present (1).
Data on the time of movement of various ions helps to ex-
plain the effect of fertilizer composition and placement on leach-
ing losses. It appears that Ca(N03)2 concentration in the soil
solution has a critical effect on sulfate solubility and in turn
on bases which would be affected by this solubility. In all in-
stances of broadcast placement the movement of sulfate sulfur
was accelerated following passage of the Ca(N03)2 crest. The
effect of Ca(NO3)2 on the sulfate concentration in the leachate
and the effect of this concentration on other bases gave rise to
some peculiarities in data, the accurate interpretation of which
would be of considerable value in foretelling the destiny of
nutrients applied in various fertilizers.
Under the conditions of the fallow treatments it appears that
the solubility of potash in the presence of sulfate is depressed
by the presence of Ca(N03)2. Under broadcast treatment the
exchange complex undoubtedly enhances the effect, while under
band placement the effect is evident only as a relatively lower
potassium concentration at the nitrate concentration crest as
compared to the potassium concentration at the sulfate concen-
Under the crop of turnips conditions with respect to potas-
sium are reversed. In all instances, except that of the no-
gypsum treatment, loss is greater from the broadcast treatment
than from the band. Removal of nitrate and potassium by plant
feeding evidently reduced the Ca(N03)2 effect to the point that
permitted relatively greater movement of potash as sulfate
from the broadcast treatment than from the band under the
more concentrated effect of the Ca(N03)2. This is borne out
to a certain extent by data from the no-gypsum treatment where
no differential leaching of potash from band and broadcast ap-
plication exists. More overall leaching of potassium took place
from the no-gypsum treatment because of less crop growth and
larger volume of leachate.
Lime had a marked effect in increasing the loss of sulfate
sulfur. This is in agreement with the findings of MacIntire (7).
It also increased the loss of nitrate nitrogen. Examination of
the distribution of the increased loss suggests that lime increased
nitrification. It should be pointed out that the pH of the un-
limed soil was already fairly high for a soil of this type. The
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 21
differential losses of nitrates between band and broadcast ap-
plications in the 1 standard and no-gypsum treatments are
difficult to explain. Calcium movement is the resultant of these
peculiarities modified by sulfate movement as would be expected,
indicating that analytical error is not responsible. Peculiarities
in nitrification rates or differential movement of ammonia re-
sulting from the' variation in conditions may be involved. The
effect of the vegetative canopy on the distribution of the rainfall
also may be significant (3).
The functions of other bases and carbonic acid have not been
considered in the discussion but they undoubtedly influence the
data and account for the lack of milliequivalent balance in cer-
The lack of exact replication is partially offset by the con-
sistency of leachate volumes and uniformity of nitrate losses
from treatments differing only in placement, and by the remark-
able consistency of trends in leachate composition in consecutive
collections from a given lysimeter.
A crop of turnips reduced the volume of water lost by leach-
ing from a 4-foot profile of Norfolk loamy fine sand under a
rainfall of 13.15 inches between December 29 and March 27
by 4.3 inches, or 46 percent. Evaporation from fallow soil dur-
ing the same period was 3.87 inches or 29.4 percent of the rain-
fall. A crop of millet reduced loss from a 21.63-inch rainfall
between May 10 and September 2 by 7.19 inches, or 63 percent.
Evaporation from a fallow soil accounted for. 10.21 inches, or
47.2 percent, of the rainfall for the same period. Evaporation
from fallow soil under a rainfall of 45.09 inches between Decem-
ber 29 and September 19 was 17 inches, or 37.9 percent of the
rainfall. The combined turnip and millet crops reduced leach-
ing by 8.91 inches, or 39 percent, for the same period. Leaching
under the millet crop began when the accumulated monthly rain-
fall reached 7.4 inches and from the fallow soil when the rainfall
accumulation reached 1.7 inches during the same period.
The turnip crop retained an equivalent of 118 percent of the
potassium, 86 percent of the nitrogen, 41 percent of the calcium
and 19 percent of the sulfur applied in a 1,000-pound per acre rate
of 5-7-5 fertilizer containing NH4NO3, KNO3, Ca (H2PO4)2. H20
and CaS4 2H20 to supply 116 pounds of calcium and 77 pounds
of sulfur in 'addition to satisfying the formula.
Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
The turnip crop effected a 50 to 90 percent reduction in leach-
ing loss of nutrients from a 2,000-pound rate of 5-7-5 made up
as stated above. Calcium loss was 36.6 pounds per acre from a
broadcast placement and 28.3 pounds from band placement.
Potassium loss was 0.82 pounds from the broadcast and 0.62
pounds from the band. Sulfur loss was 19.3 pounds from the
broadcast and 5.8 pounds from the band. Nitrogen loss was
13.6 pounds from the broadcast and 14.5 pounds from the band.
Calcium and sulfur loss was of the same order, though of
greater magnitude, from fallow soils of similar treatment. Po-
tassium loss was of reverse order, being 3.30 pounds from the
broadcast and 8.85 pounds from the band. Nitrogen loss was
approximately 112 pounds or equivalent to 112 percent of the
application in both instances under fallow treatment.
The order of appearance of the various ions indicated that
Ca(N03)2 dominated the soil solution and retarded the move-
ment of sulfates until nitrate nitrogen had passed its crest of
concentration as a result either of leaching or of plant utilization
of nitrates. The leaching of potash was apparently retarded
as an indirect effect of the reduction of solubility of sulfates by
the Ca(N03)2. A ton application of lime materially increased
the loss of sulfate sulfur and slightly increased the loss of
1. ALWAY, F. J. A nutrient element slighted in agricultural research.
Jour. Amer. Soc. Agron. 32: 913-921. 1940.
2. COLLISON, S. E. Citrus fertilizer experiments. Univ. of Florida Bul.
154: 1-48. 1919.
3. HAYNES, J. L. Ground rainfall under vegetative canopy. Jour. Amer.
Soc. Agron. 32: 176-184. 1940.
4. JOFFE, J. S. Lysimeters studies: I. Moisture percolation through the
soil profile. Soil Sci. 34: 123-143. 1932.
5. KILMER, V. J., O, E. HAYS and R. J. MUCKENHIRN. Plant nutrient and
water losses from Fayette silt loam as measured by monolith lysimeters.
Jour. Amer. Soc. Agron. 36: 249-263. 1944.
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cussion of lysimeters and a bibliography on their construction and
performance. U.S.D.A. Misc. Pub. 372: 1-67. 1940.
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Behavior of calcium, magnesium and potassium sulfates, as influenced
Some Major Factors in Leaching from Sandy Soils 23
by limestone and by dolomite a lysimeter study. Soil Sci. 46:
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9. VOLK, G. M., and C. E. BELL. Soil reaction (pH) -Some critical
factors in its determination, control and significance. Fla. Agri. Exp.
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10. WALLIHAN, ELLIS F. An improvement in lysimeter design. Jour.
Amer. Soc. Agron. 32: 395-404. 1940.