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Effect of Unamended and Phosphorus-Amended Water Treatment Residual on Corn Yields

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Application of water treatment residual (WTR) to agricultural land usually reduces the phosphorus (P) fertility of the soil and the yield of crops grown on WTR amended soil (Bugbee and Frink, 1985; Elliott and Singer, 1988; Lucas et al., 1994; Cox et al., 1997). One method to make WTR a beneficial soil amendment is to add P to the WTR before application to an agricultural soil. This would allow WTR to increase the P fertility of the soil and increase the yield of a crop. Another beneficial use of WTR could be the reduction of extractable P on fields that have excessive amounts of extractable P. Excessive amounts of extractable P in agricultural fields can cause environmental problems because the runoff water from these fields often contains dissolved P in concentrations that can cause eutrophication of lakes and ponds. Reducing the amount of extractable P in a field can reduce the amount of dissolved P in runoff water to concentrations that are not environmentally harmful. Unamended WTR may reduce the extractable P in fields with excessive amounts of extractable P because of the large amounts of Al and Fe in the WTR. The objective of this field study was determine the effect of P-amended WTR on the growth of corn. A secondary objective was to obtain a preliminary estimate of the ability of unmodified WTR to reduce plant-available phosphorus in a soil that contains excess amounts of P. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with 4 replications and 12 treatments. The treatments included four rates of WTR (7.8, 15.7, 31.4, and 62.7 Mg ha−1) modified with phosphorus at a rate of 77.4 g P kg−1 dry WTR., and 7 rates of P fertilizer at 0, 20, 39 58, 78, 98 kg of P ha−1. Two sets of plots also received 1663 kg P ha−1 to create plots with high P availability and no chance of yield limitations from insufficient P. Four of these plots were used in 1997 to meet our secondary objective to estimate the ability of unamended WTR to reduce P concentrations in soils with high amounts of available P. One set of these plots received unamended WTR at 15.7 Mg ha−1 on May 5, 1997. Corn was grown in the experimental area in 1996 and 1997, but the treatments were applied only in 1996. The P-amended WTR had a beneficial effect on the yield of corn. The four rates of P-amended WTR all supplied P to the corn plants at a rate much greater than 98 kg P fertilizer ha−1. Application of unamended WTR caused a significant reduction in extractable P in plots with relatively high P concentrations. These results suggest two beneficial uses for WTR: the use of P-amended WTR as a P fertilizer and the use of unamended WTR to reduce extractable P on agricultural fields where excess P exists from long-term manure applications, especially fields that have received large amounts of poultry manure.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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