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Soil sulfur amendments suppress Selenium uptake by alfalfa and western wheatgrass

Mackowiak, C. L.; Amacher, M. C. 2008. Soil sulfur amendments suppress Selenium uptake by alfalfa and western wheatgrass. Journal of Environmental Quality. 37: 772-779.

Selenium (Se) is a potential soil contaminant in many parts of the world where it can pose a health risk to livestock and wildlife. Phosphate ore mining in Southeast Idaho has resulted in numerous waste rock dumps revegetated with forages to stabilize the dumps and support grazing. Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), smooth brome (Bromus inermis Leyss.), and western wheat grass [Pascopyrum smithii (Rydb.) A. Love] are the dominant forage species on these lands. To demonstrate the feasibility of using sulfur (S) as a soil amendment to restrict plant Se uptake, 3 kg pots containing 50:50 w/w soil and waste shale were uniformly mixed with 0, 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 Mg ha-1 S as either elemental S or gypsum. Pots were seeded with alfalfa or western wheat grass. Dry mass and tissue Se were monitored over several clippings. Soils were sampled at the conclusion of the study and analyzed for water-soluble, oxalate-extractable, and total Se. Sulfur amendments as either elemental S or gypsum at 1.0 Mg ha-1 or greater equally suppressed Se uptake over 60% in both forage species. Alfalfa accumulated more Se than western wheat grass. Plant removal via successive clippings resulted in lower tissue Se accumulation over time than the use of S soil amendments alone. Alfalfa-planted soils contained lower water-soluble and oxalate-extractable Se than did the non-planted controls while western wheat grass-planted soils contained lower water-soluble Se. Applying S to these shalebased soils may be an economically viable option for treating Se-impacted, revegetated lands.

Keywords: Selenium (Se), soil sulfur, alfalfa, western wheatgrass

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Soil sulfur amendments suppress Selenium uptake by alfalfa and western wheatgrass
Electronic Publish Date: May 5, 2009
Last Update:
May 5, 2009

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