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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Florence, South Carolina » Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326462

Research Project: Improving Chemical, Physical, and Biological Properties of Degraded Sandy Soils for Environmentally Sustainable Production

Location: Coastal Plain Soil, Water and Plant Conservation Research

Title: Biosolids and dredged materials: alternative sources of nutrients for crop productivity and sustainability of pasture-based agroecosystem

Author
item Sigua, Gilbert

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/31/2016
Publication Date: 6/16/2016
Citation: Sigua, G.C. 2016. Biosolids and dredged materials: alternative sources of nutrients for crop productivity and sustainability of pasture-based agroecosystem. In Sosa, E.S., Castillo, I.O., Escareno, H.I, Garcia, A. J. and Betancourt, M.G. (eds.). Aspectos De Agricultural Organica, June 16-17, 2016, Puerto Vallarto, Mexico. p. 23-45.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Domestic sewage sludge or “biosolids” and lake-dredged materials are examples of materials that can be used to cut fertilizer costs in pasture-based animal agriculture. Sustainable biosolids and lake-dredged materials management is based upon controlling and influencing the quantity, quality and characteristics of these materials in such a way that negative impacts to the environment are avoided and beneficial uses are optimized. Recycling biosolids and lake-dredged materials to pasture-based animal production is quite productive as alternative nutrient sources for forage production. Perennial grass can be a good choice for repeated applications of biosolids and lake-dredged materials. Although biosolids and lake-dredged materials supply some essential plant nutrients and provide soil property-enhancing organic matter, land-application programs still generate some concerns because of possible health and environmental risks involved. Repeated applications of biosolids and lake-dredged materials indicate no harmful effects on soil quality and forage quality. Beneficial uses of biosolids and lake-dredged materials are both economical and environmental. The concentrations of soil nitrogen and phosphorus following repeated application of biosolids were far below the contamination risk in the environment. Long-term studies have demonstrated the favorable and beneficial effects of added lake-dredged materials on the early establishment of bahiagrass in sandy pasture fields. Often these materials can be obtained at little or no cost to the farmers or landowners. Lake-dredged materials can be used as soil amendments (lime and fertilizer) for early establishment of bahiagrass in beef cattle pastures. Bahiagrass in plots that were treated with biosolids and lake-dredge materials had significantly higher forage yield and crude protein content when compared with those bahiagrass in the control plots or untreated plants.