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Substrate pH and butterfly bush response to dolomitic lime or steel slag amendment

Altland, James E., Zellner, Wendy, Locke, James C.
Journal of environmental horticulture 2015 v.33 no.2 pp. 89-95
Buddleja davidii, bark, calcium oxide, containers, fertilizers, horticulture, iron, liming materials, magnesium, manganese, nutrient availability, nutrient content, nutrients, pH, plant growth, shoots, silicon, slags, soil amendments, steel
Steel slag is a fertilizer amendment with a high concentration of calcium oxide, and thus capable of raising substrate pH similar to dolomitic lime. Steel slag, however, contains higher concentrations of some nutrients, such as iron, manganese, and silicon, compared to dolomitic lime. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of steel slag rate on pH in a substrate composed of 80 pine bark : 20 sphagnum peatmoss (v:v), as well as growth and nutrient concentration of butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii ‘Pink Delight’ Franch.). The base substrate was amended with either dolomitic lime (DL) or steel slag (SS) at rates of 0, 0.6, 2.4, 4.8, 9.5, or 14.3 kg.m(-3). Substrates were filled into 12-L nursery containers and potted with a single butterfly bush per container. Dolomitic lime resulted in higher substrate pH at rates from 0.6 to 4.8 kg.m(-3) while the SS provided a greater pH reaction at rates greater than 4.8 kg.m(-3). Butterfly bush responded well to all but the highest SS rate applied. As the rate of SS increased to 14.3 kg.m(-3), decreased Mg availability may have reduced shoot growth. Based on the results of this experiment, SS could be used as an alternative to DL. However, incorporation rates would need to be adjusted slightly higher for SS compared to DL to achieve a desired pH in the range of 6 to 6.5.