Charge sparsity: An index to quantify cation effects on clay dispersion in soils
Few approaches have been developed to measure the isolated effect of exchangeable cations on clay dispersion in soils. In this study, the charge sparsity (CS) index was proposed using the ratio between the cations hydrated ionic radius and valence. The index capacity to measure cation effects on clay dispersion in soils was also evaluated. Three Ferralsols, sampled at different sites in Paraná State, Brazil, were homoionized with Ca2+, Mg2+, K+, or Na+ prior to evaluation of the clay dispersion degree. Published independent data for two soils and clays were also used. We tested the capacity of CS and II, the latter proposed by Marchuck and Rengasamy (2011), to predict clay dispersion in soils. The CS predicted the dispersion degree more accuratelly than the ionicity index did, in soils where Ca2+ and Mg2+ behaved similarly. The response of Paraná soils to CS varied with soil characteristics. Soils with a lower pH at the isoelectric point were more dispersible by cations with high CS (K+ and Na+). The CS was efficient to quantify the isolated effect of cations on the clay dispersion process in soils. Therefore, qualitative and quantitative studies can benefit from the CS as an index to understand the effect of cations on clay dispersion in soils.
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