Soil Acidification: MSU Research
The following are the objectives of our Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) and Montana Fertilizer Advisory Committee (MFAC) funded studies. The research is being conducted by LRES faculty (Rick Engel, Clain Jones, and Scott Powell), faculty and staff at the Central Ag Research Center (Pat Carr), the Montana Salinity Control Association (Jane Holzer), and producers (Andy Long, Kent Squires, Tyce Bahnmiller and Brent Hanford).
- To continue our survey (begun in 2016) of agricultural fields in Montana that have undergone acidification by developing soil pH maps, and by contrasting soil pH profiles of fields with high and low N fertilizer inputs.
- To come up with regionally specific liming rate calculation guidelines, specifically using spent sugarbeet lime.
- To test ability of seed-placed P fertilizer to mitigate grain yield losses due to low soil pH.
- Identify soil buffer test methods that provide the best estimate of lime requirements for soils in central and northern Montana. The modified Mehlich (Mehlich6) method provides the best estimate of lime requirements in Montana's soils.
- Identify canola, pea, barley, and wheat cultivars along with crop species grown in cover crop polycultures or cocktails that are best adapted to low pH environments. Among crops common to Montana, yields in Idaho and Washington were reduced below about 5.2 for wheat and barley, and 5.6-5.7 for annual legumes such as pea and lentil (Mahler and McDole, 1987). This is ongoing.
- Provide agricultural stakeholders with the research results they need to make informed decisions on acid soil mitigation and prevention. This is ongoing.
Mahler, R.L., and R.E. McDole. 1987. The Relationship of Soil pH and Crop Yields in Northern Idaho. University of Idaho, Extension Service Current Information Series No. 811.