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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Functional Foods Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #339923

Research Project: Evaluation of the Chemical and Physical Properties of Low-Value Agricultural Crops and Products to Enhance Their Use and Value

Location: Functional Foods Research

Title: Physical and chemical properties of pyrolyzed MWRDGC biosolids for utilization in sand-based turfgrass rootzones

item Vaughn, Steven
item DINELLI, F - North Shore Country Club
item Kenar, James - Jim
item Jackson, Mark
item Peterson, Steven - Steve

Submitted to: American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/19/2017
Publication Date: 9/22/2017
Citation: Vaughn, S.F., Dinelli, F.D., Kenar, J.A., Jackson, M.A., Peterson, S.C. 2017. Physical and chemical properties of pyrolyzed MWRDGC biosolids for utilization in sand-based turfgrass rootzones [abstract]. American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Biosolids are several forms of treated sewage sludge that are intended for use as soil conditioners for horticultural and agricultural crops. In the U.S., biosolids may only refer to conditioned sludge that meets USEPA pollutant and pathogen requirements for land application and surface disposal. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRDGC) biosolids are classified as Class A biosolids, which is a designation that meets USEPA Part 503 guidelines for land application with no restrictions and can be legally used as fertilizer on municipal parks, golf courses, or for home gardeners. We have been studying the use of biochars (pyrolyzed biomass) derived from a variety of feedstocks for replacing peat in the construction of new sand-based turfgrass rootzones such as golf greens, tees, and athletic fields to increase water and nutrient retention. However, biochars produced from traditional sources such as wood wastes have low bulk densities (~0.2-0.3 g cm-3) compared to sand (~1.9 g cm-3), resulting in migration of the biochar in the sand, diminishing its water and nutrient retention in the turf rootzones. However, MWRDGC biosolids have a bulk density similar to sand (~1.9-2.0), indicating that biochars produced from it would also have high bulk densities, preventing it from migrating in these rootzones. Biosolids were thermally treated in an oxygen-free (nitrogen atmosphere) retort oven at 300, 400, 500, 700 and 900 deg C to form five granular solids. As pyrolysis temperatures increased, bulk densities, total surface areas, micropore surface areas, % minerals and pH values increased, while % carbon decreased compared to untreated biosolids. FTIR analysis showed decreased surface functionality as pyrolysis temperature increased. Perennial ryegrass plants grown in 10% pyrolyzed biosolids/90% sand (v/v) had similar growth to 10% untreated biosolids/90% sand and 10%/peat moss/90% sand. These results indicate that pyrolyzed biosolids have excellent potential for peat replacement in sand-based rootzones.