Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #235991

Title: Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) products use on agricultural land

item Baligar, Virupax
item Clark, Ralph
item Korcak, Ronald
item Wright, Robert

Submitted to: Advances in Agronomy
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/7/2010
Publication Date: 5/7/2011
Citation: Baligar, V.C., Clark, R.B., Korcak, R.F., Wright, R.J. 2011. Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) products use on agricultural land. Advances in Agronomy. 111:51-86.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Over half of the electricity used in the U.S. is presently produced by burning coal. Currently 114 m mt/year of coal combustion by products (CCP) are produced when coal is burned for generation of electricity. Only about 43% of CCPs currently produced in the U.S. are utilized. Opportunities should be sought to utilize CCPs constructively and beneficially. Nearly two-thirds of the CCPs in the U.S. are presently discarded, mainly in landfills. Landfill sites are becoming more limited and disposal costs continue to increase. The beneficial value of many CCPs has been well established by research and commercial practice in the U.S. and elsewhere, and beneficial use of CCPs could be readily accomplished. Otherwise, large amounts of the CCPs will have to be stored in landfills and/or mountains of solid waste, leaving undesirable environmental legacies for future generations. Currently electric utilities burning coal produce about 31 m mt /year of flue gas desulfurization (FGD) products as part of overall CCP’s. These FGD products contain high levels of Ca and S which could be useful as soil amendments. Beneficial use of FGDs could be on agricultural/pasture/forest land as an amendment to increase pH of acidic soils; reduce soil alkalinity problems; improve tilth, water infiltration and water storage in soils; provides a source of mineral nutrients (Ca, S, Mg, B) for plants; to reduce erosion and movement of sediment, nutrients and pesticides to surface water; to stabilize and enrich organic composts/manures; and in special construction projects on agricultural land (e.g., animal containment feedlot pads, outside feed storage pads, and pond liners to contain water). Agricultural uses, application on agricultural land can be important in overall management of FGD however, information about beneficial use of FGDs is limited because FGDs are newer products. The objectives of this communication are to: (i) provide background information about FGDs, (ii) provide research information about FGD use in soil and on agricultural land, and (iii) describe benefits, cautions, rates, and risks that might be important when these materials are used on land. This information should benefit industry, state and federal agencies, consultants, and producers who make decisions about agricultural uses of FGDs.