Application of kaolin amorphous derivative as a nitrogen carrier

Singh, Balbir, Gilkes, Robert J., & Mackinnon, Ian D.R. (2002) Application of kaolin amorphous derivative as a nitrogen carrier. In Kheoruenromne, Irb (Ed.) 17th World Congress on Soil Science, 14-21 August 2002, Bangkok, Thailand.


Sandy soils have low nutrient holding capacity and high water conductivity. Consequently, nutrients applied as highly soluble chemical fertilisers are prone to leaching, particularly in heavily irrigated environments such as horticultural soils and golf courses. Amorphous derivatives of kaolin with high cation exchange capacity may be loaded with desired nutrients and applied as controlledrelease fertilisers.

Kaolin is an abundant mineral, which can be converted to a meso-porous amorphous derivative (KAD) using facile chemical processes. KAD is currently being used to sequester ammonium from digester effluent in sewage treatment plants in a commercial environment. This material is also known in Australia by the trade name MesoLite. The ammonium-saturated form of KAD may be applied to soils as a nitrogen fertiliser. Up to 7% N can be loaded onto KAD by contacting it with high-ammonia concentration wastewater from sewerage treatment plants. This poster paper demonstrates plant uptake of nitrogen from KAD and compares its efficiency as a fertiliser with NH4SO4.

Rye grass was grown in 1kg pots in a glass-house. Nitrogen was applied at a range of rates using NH4SO4 and two KAD materials carrying 7% and 3% nitrogen, respectively. All other nutrients were applied in adequate amounts. All treatments were replicated three times. Plants were harvested after four weeks. Dry mass and N concentrations were determined by standard methods.

At all N application rates, ammonium-loaded KAD produced significantly higher plant mass than for NH4SO4. The lower fertiliser effectiveness of NH4SO4 is attributed to possible loss of some N through volatilisation. Of the two KAD types, the material with lower CEC value supported slightly higher plant yields. The KAD materials did not show any adverse effect on availability of trace elements, as evidenced by lack of deficiency symptoms and plant analyses. Clearly, nitrogen loaded on to KAD in the form of ammonium is likely to be protected from leaching, but is still available to plants. These data suggest that KAD-based fertilisers may be suitable substitutes for water soluble N, K and other cation fertilisers for leaching soils.

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ID Code: 63165
Item Type: Conference Item (Poster)
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: nitrogen carrier, nutrient capacity, sandy soils, kaolin derivative
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > SOIL SCIENCES (050300)
Divisions: Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 11 Oct 2013 02:57
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2013 10:10

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