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Effects of Sludge Disposal on Drainage Solutions of Two Forest Soils

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A study was made of the feasibility of sewage sludge disposal on Douglas-fir forest soils in western Washington. Fresh dewatered sludge (22.5 percent solids) was applied at 1,080 t/ha to deep gravelly and shallow loamy soils with or without Douglas-fir forest cover. Nitrate levels of soil drainage increased by two orders of magnitude over those of the background controls, but subsided below 10 ppm N in 3 years. The cleanup or renovation of leachates from sewage sludge by the soils was good, especially when under forest cover. However, nitrate production in the soils resulted in accelerated leaching and cation stripping. High water-absorption capacity of unincorporated sludge, along with poor drying characteristics, resulted in slow decomposition and mineralization rates, especially for sludge under forest cover. Biologically neutral chloride appeared to be the dominant anion in drainage from forested soils when mineralization rates for nutrient anions were low. Forest Sci 27:792-800.

Keywords: Douglas-fir; groundwater; nitrate; renovation; sewage; soil solution

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor of Forest Hydrology and Water Quality, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611

Publication date: December 1, 1981

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