Hydrochemical effects of surface liming, controlled drainage and lime-filter drainage on boreal acid sulfate soils

Mats Åström, Peter Österholm*, Ilona Bärlund, Sirkka Tattari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


On the coastal plains of Finland there are approximately 3,000 km 2 of acid sulfate soils developed as a result of intensive agricultural drainage of waterlogged sulfide-bearing sediments. The runoff from these soils contains very high amounts of acidity and metals that have severely deteriorated the aquaculture in several downstream rivers and estuaries. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop and test more environmental friendly ways of draining landscapes underlain with these nasty soils. In this study, over a 3-year monitoring period the effect of excess surface liming, controlled drainage and lime filter drainage of acid sulfate soils on runoff water quality (pH, sulfate, metals) was determined and assessed. The results showed that (1) the liming measures had not prevented severely acidic and metal-rich waters from forming and discharging from the soils, (2) the controlled drainage system might have reduced discharge peaks but its potential effects on the discharged water quality were nondetectable due to its small effect on the groundwater level and naturally inherited heterogeneities, and (3) the spatial and temporal variations identified for the various hydrochemical determinants were not caused by the kind of treatment applied. Therefore, on acid sulfate soil fields, like the one studied here, the short-term hydrochemical effects of the treatments tested are minor (or nonexistent) at least as long as the controlled drainage systems are not technically improved or better maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2007
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Acid sulfate soils
  • Controlled drainage
  • Lime filter drainage
  • Metals
  • Sulfur
  • Surface liming


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