University of California

Reclamation of black-alkali soils with various kinds of sulfur


Edward E. Thomas

Author Affiliations

Edward E. Thomas was Associate Chemist in the Experiment Station.

Publication Information

Hilgardia 10(5):127-142. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v10n05p127. July 1936.

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In harmony with the suggestion of Lipman,(5) O’Gara(7) reported in 1917 that the application of elemental sulfur reduced the carbonate content of black-alkali soils. The results of laboratory and pot-culture tests by Hibbard(1) indicated that sulfur would be effective in the reclamation of such soils. Rudolfs,(8) and Waksman et al.(10) found that certain microörganisms produce active oxidation of sulfur in black-alkali soils. MacIntire., Gray, and Shaw(6) found that to a limited extent nonbiological oxidation of sulfur also takes place in soil. Kelley and Thomas(3) showed that elemental sulfur underwent oxidation in several black-alkali soils. The soils used contained soluble normal carbonate (CO3) varying from 0.7 to 4.0 milliequivalents per 100 grams and chloride (Cl) varying from 0.3 to 12.6 milliequivalents per 100 grams. Kelley and Thomas(4) also obtained satisfactory practical results by applying elemental sulfur to the black-alkali soil near Fresno, California. Samuels(9) reported that the application of sulfur inoculated with a certain oxidizing bacterium (Thiobacillus thiödxidans) gave good results in alkali-reclamation experiments at Fresno.

Kinds of Sulfur Used

Five different kinds of sulfur were used in the laboratory experiments and four in the field experiments here reported. These were: (1) sulfur inoculated with the oxidizing bacterium, Thiobacillus thiödxidans; (2) uninoculated, finely ground elemental sulfur; (3) uninoculated coarse sulfur; (4) uninoculated colloidal sulfur; (5) uninoculated sulfur concentrate.

Literature Cited

[1] Hibbard P. L. Sulfur for neutralizing alkali soils. Soil Sci. 1921. 11:385-87.

[2] Kelley W. P. Variability of alkali soil. Soil Sci. 1922. 14:177-89.

[3] Kelley W. P., Thomas E. E. The removal of sodium carbonate from soils. California Agr. Exp. Sta. Tech. Paper. 1923. 1:1-24.

[4] Kelley W. P., Thomas E. E. Reclamation of the Fresno type of black-alkali soil. California Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 1928. 455:1-37.

[5] Lipman J. G. Sulfur on alkali soils. Soil Sci. 1916. 2:205

[6] MacIntire W. H., Gray F. J., Shaw W. M. The non-biological oxidation of elemental sulfur in quartz media. A preliminary report. Soil Sci. 1921. 11:249-54.

[7] O’Gara P. J. Available fertilizer from smelter by-products. Washington Irrig. Inst. Proc. 1917. 5:102-10.

[8] Rudolfs W. Sulfur oxidation in “black alkali” soils. Soil Sci. 1922. 13:215-29.

[9] Samuels C. D. The oxidation of sulfur in alkali soil and its effect on the replaceable bases. Hilgardia. 1927. 3(1):1-26. DOI: 10.3733/hilg.v03n01p001 [CrossRef]

[10] Waksman S. A., Wark C. H., Joffe J., Starkey R. L. Oxidation of sulfur by microorganisms in black-alkali soils. Jour. Agr. Research. 1923. 24:297-305.

Thomas E. 1936. Reclamation of black-alkali soils with various kinds of sulfur. Hilgardia 10(5):127-142. DOI:10.3733/hilg.v10n05p127

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