The suitability of expanded shale as an amendment for clay soils Academic Article uri icon


  • Excessive soil moisture in clay soils can cause poor aeration and adversely affect plant growth. Small [1 to 3 mm (0.039 to 0.118 inches)] and large [3 to 6 mm (0.118 to 0.354 inches)] diameter expanded shales (ExSh), quartz sand, sphagnum peatmoss (SPM), and cottonseed hulls (CH) were evaluated as soil amendments for Austin silty clay soil. A 3-inch (7.6-cm) layer of each amendment was incorporated to a depth of 6 inches (15.2 cm), resulting in a 1:1 mixture by volume. Pansies (Viola wittrockiana 'Crown Azure Blue') were grown from December to June, followed by scaevola (Scaevola aemula 'New Wonder') from June to November for two growing seasons. Foliage quality and extent of flowering were evaluated biweekly. Pansy root weights and above-ground biomass were quantified at the end of each growing season. None of the amendments significantly affected pansy foliage quality or the number of blooms per plant. Small diameter ExSh and SPM decreased pansy nitrogen content the first year after application, but not the second. During the first growing season, when soils were frequently saturated due to excessive rainfall, pansy root weights were significantly higher in soils amended with the small and large diameter ExSh. Large diameter ExSh treatments significantly increased the survival rate of transplanted scaevola plants and also the quality of foliage and percent blossom coverage during both growing seasons. Cottonseed hulls also increased scaevola survival for both growing seasons, but did not consistently improve scaevola foliage quality or bloom coverage. Of the five amendments tested, large diameter ExSh consistently improved overall plant performance more than the other amendments.

published proceedings

  • HortTechnology

author list (cited authors)

  • Sloan, J. J., George, S. W., Mackay, W. A., Colbaugh, P., & Feagley, S.

complete list of authors

  • Sloan, JJ||George, SW||Mackay, WA||Colbaugh, P||Feagley, S

publication date

  • January 2002