Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Plants, Soils, and Climate

Department name when degree awarded

Soil Science and Biometeorology

Committee Chair(s)

Raymond W. Miller


Raymond W. Miller


Don Sisson


J. J. Jurinak


Using greenhouse pot techniques, 32 drilling mud components were tested to see if, at a high rate of addition, they reduced plant growth. Green beans and sweet corn were the test plants. The excellent black, silt loam, slightly acidic, uncultivated Dagor soil (Cumulic Haploxeroll) was used for most tests. Rates used were considered to be abnormal level (high rate) and usual (low rate) amounts that might be added in commonly used drilling muds.

Drilling mud components that caused no observable or statistically significant reductions of plant yield are the following: Super Visbestos, (Asbestos), asphalt, Ben-Ex (a vinyl acetate and maleic anhydride copolymer), bentonite, Cypan (sodium polyacrylate), DME (ethoxylated nonyl phenol), Super Lube Flow (gilsonite), paraformaldehyde, Separan-AP- 273 (Dow-made, Shell-supplied polymer), sodium acid pyrophosphate, and sodium carboxymethyl cellulose.

Drilling mud components that barely caused a statistical significant (5 percent level) reduction in yield for only one of the two plant species when added to the soil only and, therefore, is of questionable hazard to plant growth are the following: Barite (BaSO4), Desco (modified tannin), Drillaid 412 (a filming amine), Drillaid 405 (diesel oil replacement), Kelzan-XC (a xanthan gum), Pipe dope, Lingo (lignite), Soltex (sulfonated asphalt?), and Witconnate 1840 (sulfonated tall oil).

Drilling mud components causing significant reduction in plant growth mostly at only the high addition rates to soil-mud mixtures are the following: Desco (modified tannin?), Dextrid (a non-fermenting starch), pregelatinized starch, Q-Broxin (an iron chromelignosulfonate), Gendril Thik (guar gum), and Kwik-Seal.

The most severe reductions in plant growth were caused by the following materials: Sodium hydroxide at the high rate (which was used in the soil-mud mixture with calcium lignosulfonate and with lignite), diesel oil and potassium chloride at both rates. The latter salt completely inhibited plant germination.

Probable causes for plant growth reductions, photographic and visual records, and a discussion of the results is presented in some detail.



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