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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
To analyze soil, plant and water samples from EPA-ARS cooperative field test plots in GA, AL, and MS for nutrients and trace elements to support collection of data to conduct risk evaluation for beneficial use of FGD-Gypsum in Agriculture, and when data are collected to cooperate with EPA in conducting Risk Assessment for Beneficial Use of FGD-Gypsum.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Using existing equipment in EMBUL (Atomic Absorption; ICP-AES; ICP-MS; spectrophotometer), analyze nutrients and trace elements in gypsum, soil, plant and water samples from ARS field test plots in GA, AL, and MS to provide information needed for risk assessment of beneficial use of FGD-gypsum. During project, cooperate with US-EPA to conduct risk evaluation and collect and evaluate other information relevant to risk assessment for Beneficial Use of FGD-Gypsum. When data are collected, assist EPA in preparing Risk Assessment, responding to public review comments, and finalization of the Risk Assessment for Beneficial Use of FGD-Gypsum.

3. Progress Report
The goal of this cooperative project was the revegetation of a barren asbestos emitting Superfund Site using compost and gypsum. The Vermont Asbestos Group Superfund site is 300 acres of barren ground serpentinite rock which has remained barren for over 50 years due to severe infertility and poor soil properties. Methods to achieve persistent revegetation of such sites are being tested in cooperation with U.S.-Environmental Protection Agency and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Based on previous success using composts and biosolids in remediation of metal toxic soils, revegetation mixtures were designed and tested to alleviate both infertility and toxicity of the site soils with grasses and legumes. Mixtures of manure composts with Fluidized Gas Desulfurization-Gypsum and Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium fertilizers gave immediate and strong revegetation in a greenhouse pot trial with potential cover crops. Two available commercial composts in northern Vermont were mixed with gypsum, fertilizers and limestone for a field test of revegetation during August, 2010, and extensive vegetative cover was obtained before winter and is persistent during 2011. Alternative treatment by leveling and cover with 24 inches of topsoil was estimated to cost $200 million, while use of surface applied compost mixtures should cost no more than $1.5 million (plus cost of leveling steep slopes) and use locally available resources without removing topsoil from other locations. Monitoring activities were accomplished by meetings with cooperators to plan and review progress, email discussions and planning, and working together to install and evaluate field plot performance.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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