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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING CROP AND ANIMAL PRODUCTION SYSTEMS FOR SOUTHERN PRODUCERS Title: Evaluation of FGD-gypsum to improve forage production and reduce phosphorus lossed from Piedmont soils

Authors
item Schomberg, Harry
item Fisher, Dwight
item Endale, Dinku
item Franklin, Dorcas
item Jenkins, Michael

Submitted to: Proceeding American Coal Ash Association
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 20, 2011
Publication Date: May 9, 2011
Repository URL: http://www.flyash.info/2011/148-Schomberg-2011.pdf
Citation: Schomberg, H.H., Fisher, D.S., Endale, D.M., Franklin, D.H., Jenkins, M. 2011. Evaluation of FGD-gypsum to improve forage production and reduce phosphorus lossed from Piedmont soils. The 2011 World of Coal Ash, May 9-12, 2011, Denver Colorado. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGD-gypsum) is a byproduct from coal fired electricity generators. Like mined gypsum FGD-gypsum has the potential for beneficial use in agricultural systems as a soil amendment. FGD- gypsum can improve soil chemical and physical properties and increase crop productivity. FGD-gypsum reduces the solubility of phosphorus which can provide environmental benefits by helping to reduce phosphorus in runoff. Phosphorus in runoff increases algal growth in water bodies which can cause fish kills. Scientists at the J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resource Conservation Center near Watkinsville, GA conducted rain fall simulation studies to measure the effects of FGD-gypsum on runoff, P and heavy metal transport, and movement of fecal indicator organisms on a Cecil soil typical of the Georgia Piedmont. The study was conducted on a Coastal Bermudagrass hay field. Runoff amounts tended to decrease with increasing rates of FGD-gypsum. Levels of P in runoff from plots treated with 6 tons/acre of poultry litter decreased with the addition of FGD-gypsum. Similar decreases were seen for potassium, copper, and arsenic. Most heavy metals that would be considered harmful to the environment were below the detection limits for the methods used to measure them. Limited rainfall during the first forge growing season limited forage production and there was no indication of effects of the FGD-gypsum treatments. Our results indicate that FGD-gypsum can help reduce P and other heavy metal losses on areas receiving poultry litter in the Southern Piedmont.

Technical Abstract: Flue gas desulfurization gypsum (FGD-gypsum), a byproduct from coal fired electricity generators, has the potential for beneficial use in agricultural systems as a soil amendment. Similar to mined gypsum it can improve soil chemical and physical properties and increase crop productivity. FGD-gypsum may also provide environmental benefits by helping to decrease the solubility of phosphorus and lower the adverse effects of P runoff on off-site water quality. We measured the effects of FGD-gypsum on runoff, P and heavy metal transport, and movement of fecal indicator organisms on a Cecil soil using rain fall simulation. The study was conducted on a Coastal Bermudagrass hay field at the J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resource Conservation Center near Watkinsville, GA. Runoff amounts tended to decrease with increasing rates of FGD-gypsum. Levels of P in runoff from plots treated with 6 tons/acre of poultry litter decreased with the addition of FGD-gypsum. Similar decreases were seen for potassium, copper, and arsenic. Most heavy metals were below the detection limits for our analysis methods. Limited rainfall during the first growing season limited forage production and there was no indication of effects of the FGD-gypsum treatments. Our results indicate that FGD-gypsum can help reduce P and at least some losses of metals on areas receiving poultry litter in the Southern Piedmont.

Last Modified: 8/29/2014
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