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Glossary:Cation exchange capacity (CEC)

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The total amount of exchangeable cations that can be held by the soil, expressed in terms of milliequivalents per 100 grams of soil at neutrality (pH 7.0) or at some other stated pH value. Soil clays and organic matter have a relatively large number of negative charge sites which retain cations in dynamic equilibrium with the soil solution. The number of cation positive charges retained by 100 grams of soil is called the cation exchange capacity.