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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #256729

Title: Using FGD gypsum to remove soluble phosphorus from agricultural drainage waters

item Bryant, Ray
item Buda, Anthony
item Kleinman, Peter
item Church, Clinton
item MCGRATH, JOSHUA - University Of Maryland
item GRUBB, KAREN - University Of Maryland
item BOSE, SALIL - Constellation Energy

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2010
Publication Date: 11/1/2010
Citation: Bryant, R.B., Buda, A.R., Kleinman, P.J., Church, C., Mcgrath, J.M., Grubb, K.L., Bose, S. 2010. Using FGD gypsum to remove soluble phosphorus from agricultural drainage waters[abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. p 143.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: After several decades of applying chicken litter to meet crop demands for nitrogen, high levels of legacy phosphorus (P) in soils of the Delmarva Peninsula are a major source of soluble P entering drainage ditches that empty to the Chesapeake Bay. In April, 2007, Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) gypsum was used to construct a ditch filter to precipitate soluble P as calcium phosphate. Filtration through a bed of FGD gypsum removed 35 to 90 % of the P from ditch flow that passed through the filter. Although chemically effective, large flow events topped the weir, and P rich waters flowed to the Manokin River. Simultaneously, research on groundwater hydrology in Coastal Plain soils of the Delmarva showed that overland flow accounts for less than or equal to 10 % of P export to ditches. Lateral groundwater flow, during storm events when water tables are high, is the major pathway for soluble P delivery to ditches. In August, 2009, gypsum “curtains,” consisting of FGD gypsum-filled trenches parallel to the ditch, were installed and monitored by piezometers. Lateral flow rates were not diminished by the gypsum curtains, and soluble P was reduced by 50 to 95% as groundwater passed through the high calcium environment of the buried gypsum. Environmental concerns due to higher levels of mercury (Hg) and arsenic (As) in FGD gypsum than in naturally occurring mined gypsum were determined to be unfounded. Filtered water had no detectable Hg. Arsenate, which is present in elevated levels in poultry litter- amended soils, behaves similarly to phosphate. Data show lower levels of soluble arsenic after filtration through both the ditch filter and the curtain. The potential for applying “spent” gypsum at typical amendment rates was assessed. There may be potential to use the calcium phosphate rich gypsum as fertilizer if it is applied before crops need the nutrient.