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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Use of Flue Gas Desulfurization (Fgd) Gypsum to Improve Crop and Forage Production on Erodible Soils of the South

Location: Southeast Watershed Research

2010 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Evaluate FGD gypsum influences soil physical properties and losses of P from poultry litter on pastures (Watkinsville and Auburn) and crop land (Oxford). The research would help establish proper combinations of rates of FGD gypsum and poultry litter to reduce losses of P in runoff and improve soil productivity and provide documentation of water quality improvements associated with FGD gypsum needed to identify practices for use as a Best Management Practices and to qualify for water quality improvement credits.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
At Watkinsville and Auburn FGD gypsum and poultry litter will be applied at four rates (0, 2, 4, 6 Mg ha-1) to bermudagrass pasture to evaluate changes in available soil P over three years. Use of similar treatments at Auburn and Watkinsville is to evaluate differences in treatment effects associated with differences in soil and climate at the two locations. FGD gypsum and poultry litter would be applied annually and measurements of soil P fractions (Total P, water soluble P, Mehlich P, and organic P) would be made at 6 month intervals. Soil aggregate stability would be measured yearly to evaluate impacts of FGD gypsum on soil structural stability. In addition we would evaluate FGD gypsum and poultry litter effects on forage production and quality along with the potential for nutrient removal by grazing and haying which is important for management of high P soils. Forage would be harvested at regular intervals to simulate haying and evaluated for P content (P removal) and forage quality. Results would establish potential for using FGD gypsum as an amendment to increase poultry litter application rates and improve water use efficiency on pasture and hay land.

At Oxford - Two studies will be conducted. At the Northeast Mississippi Experiment Station at Verona the effects of FGD gypsum on an existing set of no-till cotton plots will be evaluated. FGD gypsum application rates of 0, 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 tons/acre would be applied on a replicated plot experiment. A Study at Milan, TN will evaluate the effects of tillage-gypsum interactions on cotton yields. Crop yields will be measured by the experiment station personnel responsible for all agronomic practices. Following harvest each growing season, soil cores will be collected to a depth of 36 inches from each plot and characterized for water dispersible clay as a measure of erodibility, particle size distribution, organic carbon content, pH, exchangeable Al, exchangeable bases, total calcium, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus.


3.Progress Report

This project contributes to research objective 1 of this in-house project: Develop and document crop and animal production practices that improve productivity and benefit natural resources by improving soil and water management and nutrient cycling.

This cooperative project with Duke Energy Inc. investigates the effects of flue gas desulfurized gypsum (FGD-gypsum) on forage production, soil properties, and movement of phosphorus in association with land applications of poultry litter as a source of nutrients for piedmont soils. The overall project involves three Agricultural Research Service (ARS) locations (Auburn, Alabama, Oxford, Mississippi, and Watkinsville, Georgia). The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery is cooperating in the project for risk assessment. In 2010 we analyzed runoff and soil samples, analyzed the data and contributed to a risk assessment for FGD-gypsum in cooperation with USEPA. Annual reports were given to participating utilities and USEPA. The Authorized Departmental Officer’s Designated Representative monitored the project through coordination of information with the cooperator and with the other ARS locations through email and phone conversations. Research updates were conducted via conference calls and a face to face meeting in July 2010 at Jackson, Tennessee.


Last Modified: 7/25/2014
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