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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Runoff, Erosion and Nutrient Losses from Compost and Mulch Blankets under Simulated Rainfall

Authors
item Risse, L - UNIV OF GEORGIA
item Faucette, L - UNIV OF GEORGIA
item Nearing, Mark
item Gaskin, J - UNIV OF GEORGIA
item West, L - UNIV OF GEORGIA

Submitted to: Composting and Compost Utilization International Symposium
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 25, 2002
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Control of soil erosion and associated nonpoint source pollution is essential to improving water quality. The use of compost or mulch blankets as a soil cover can help control soil erosion and provide sustainable alternatives to disposal for many biomass resources. To effectively utilize compost and mulch cover to control soil erosion a basic understanding of the relationships between the physical and chemical properties of the cover material and resulting pollutant loads in the runoff will be required. The objective of this study was to investigate the amounts of runoff, erosion, and nutrient losses obtained under simulated rainfall using a variety of compost and mulch materials. This was accomplished using a rainfall simulator on small plots of approximately one square meter that consisted of a bare soil base covered with 5 cm of compost. Treatments included aged poultry litter, three different types of poultry litter compost, municipal solid waste compost, biosolids compost, food waste compost, yard waste compost, three different types of wood mulch, and bare soil. Results indicated that all of the treatments except for aged poultry litter were effective at reducing solids loss in the runoff. Nutrient losses from most of the compost treatments, however, were higher than those from bare soil or mulch treatments. Treatments with lower respiration rates and nitrate-nitrogen concentrations tended to have less erosion and transport of solids. Nitrate nitrogen content, respiration rates, soluble salt, sodium, and potassium contents were good indicators of ammonia and phosphorus losses.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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