Gypsum amendment to soil can reduce selenium uptake by alfalfa grown in the presence of coal fly ash

Mary A. Arthur, Gail Rubin, Peter B. Woodbury, Leonard H. Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Experiments in the field and greenhouse were conducted in the presence of coal fly ash to determine whether gypsum can reduce Se concentration in alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). In the field experiment, conducted at a coal fly ash landfill, 11.2 t ha-1 gypsum was applied to soil as a top dressing to test the effect of gypsum in reducing selenium (Se) concentration in aboveground plant tissue. There were four treatment combinations of gypsum over a two year period, 1990 and 1991: (0, 0), (0, 11.2) (11.2, 0) and (11.2, 11.2). In 1991, the Se concentration was lower in alfalfa grown with gypsum regardless of whether the gypsum was applied in both years or in only one year, indicating that the effect of gypsum application in the first year persisted into the second year. Since there was no increase in aboveground biomass with added gypsum, differences in Se concentration reflect a competitive interaction between S and Se. In the greenhouse experiment, 12 soil treatments were tested: three levels of fly ash (0, 10 and 20%) in combination with each of four levels of gypsum (0, 2.5, 5, and 7.5%). The Se concentration in alfalfa grown in 10% fly ash declined linearly with increasing gypsum dose, resulting in a reduction in Se concentration of 0.04±0.02 μg g-1 for each 1% gypsum added for the first harvest and 0.06±0.03 μg g-1 for each 1% gypsum added in the second harvest. Based on these results, gypsum may prove useful as a management tool to reduce the uptake of Se by plants growing on coal fly ash landfills. ei]H Lambers

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1993


  • Medicago sativa L.
  • coal fly ash
  • gypsum
  • selenium
  • sulfur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Plant Science


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