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Open Access Sustaining Biosolids Recycling Under Phosphorus-Based Nutrient Management

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Nearly all states have developed phosphorus (P) site assessment tools (P indices) to rank agricultural fields based on vulnerability to P loss. Using the Pennsylvania P index, 95 active biosolids application fields were evaluated to quantify the impact of mandated P-based management on biosolids recycling. Under existing management, only 22 fields qualify for standard nitrogen (N)-based biosolids application rates. Changes in crop management, biosolids incorporation, and soil erosion control practices provided modest improvement in the number of fields (26-32) qualifying for N-based application. By accounting for the low potential for biosolids-P release to runoff, 76 fields could be managed by applying biosolids to satisfy crop N needs. A combination of measures could be used to qualify nearly all fields for N-based budgeting. Similar evaluations should be conducted using local P indices and site characteristics to gauge the sustainability of biosolids recycling programs under future P-based nutrient management policies in other states.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2009-10-01

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