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Change of Soil Nitrogen Availability Following Biosolids: Application to a Loblolly Pine (PINUS TAEDA) Plantation.

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Biosolids are materials produced in domestic sewage treatment, which have been processed to be safe for disposal by application to land. They release high concentrations of nitrogen increasing the productivity of amended lands. As conventional fertilizer prices increase, biosolids may benefit forest managers seeking inexpensive alternatives to improve nutrient availability. However, environmental concerns exist that nutrients from biosolids may contributing to nonpoint source pollution.

Biosolids from two municipal wastewater treatment plants were applied at different times to a thinned loblloly pine (PINUS TAEDA) plantation to determine the effect of application time, rate, and type of biosolids on soil nitrogen availability. The study was established as a random complete block design with treatments of different application time (November, 2005 and March 2006), types (lime stabilized, anaerobic digested, and pelletized) and rates of biosolids. A conventional fertilizer treatment using urea plus diammonium phosphate was also included for comparison. Ion exchange membranes were used to measure NO3-N, and NH4-N in the forest floor and the mineral surface horizon. Soil solution samples were collected monthly at 1 m depth in tension lysimeters and analyzed for NO3-N. Nitrogen availability increased after biosolids and conventional fertilizer applications. Only high application rates increased leaching potential. Results from this study indicate that biosolids, applied at low rates, may be a good alternative as a source of nutrients.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-01-01

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