Submitted to: Compost Science and Utilization
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2002
Publication Date: 1/1/2003
Citation: HE, Z.L., CALVERT, D.V., ALVA, A.K., LI, Y.C., STOFFELLA, P.J., BANKS, D.J. NITROGEN TRANSFORMATION AND AMMONIA VOLATILIZATION FROM BIOSOLIDS AND COMPOST APPLIED TO CALCAREOUS SOIL. COMPOST SCIENCE AND UTILIZATION, 11:81-88. 2003. Interpretive Summary: Organic amendments such as biosolids and composts are used as nitrogen source for crop production. The form of nitrogen and rate of transformation across different forms are variable for different sources of amendments. Biosolids and composts contain high amount of ammonium form which can be subject to volatilization losses. These information are necessary for developing guidelines on the quantity and scheduling of application of these amendments to minimize the losses and optimize the utilization of nutrients from these amendments. West Palm cocompost (WPCC) and a biosolid (BSD) were used in this study to examine nitrogen transformation. Nitrogen volatilization was greater from BSD as compared to that from WPCC. Nitrogen volatilization loss decreased when the organic amendment was incorporated with the soil as compared to surface application. Nitrogen loss by ammonia volatilization from surface applied biosolid or compost, during 180 d incubation, accounted for 18 to 23 percent of total nitrogen that has mineralized. Incorporation of the above amendments significantly increased the nitrogen mineralization.
Technical Abstract: One benefit of the use of composts and biosolids in agriculture is their nitrogen supplying capacity. Redepositin of ammonia volatilized from surface applied composts and biosolids may contaminate surface water and sandy soils. Laboratory incubation studies were conducted to quantify NH3 volatilization from a West Palm cocompost (WPCC) and biosolids (BSD) either surface applied or soil incorporated and to determine the relationship between NH3 volatilization and nitrogen mineralization. Such information is required to formulate guidelines for field application of composts or biosolids. Ammonia volatilization from the WPCC- or BSD amended soil was closely related to nitrogen mineralization and application method. More NH3 was volatilized from the BSD than the WPCC, which likely resulted from higher total N concentration and lower C/N ratio of the BSD. Nitrogen volatilization losses were greater with surface application than with soil incorporation. The amounts of NH3-N volatilized during an 180 d incubation period accounted for 18 percent and 23 percent of the total mineralized N for the surface applied BSD and WPCC, respectively. Soil incorporation increased nitrogen mineralization by more than 60 percent in the BSD and by 8-fold in the WPCC, but reduced NH3 volatilization by 5- and 150-fold, respectively for the BSD and WPCC.