Seven years of biosolids versus inorganic nitrogen applications to tall fescue.J Environ Qual 2001 Nov-Dec; 30(6):2188-94JE
Repeated applications of municipal wastewater biosolids is cost effective for biosolids managers, but may lead to undesirable accumulations of nutrients or contaminants. We evaluated the effects of seven years of biosolids applications on tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) production and nutrient availability. We compared two types of Class A biosolids applied to tall fescue on a sandy loam in western Washington. Mean annual biosolids rates of 290, 580, and 870 kg total N ha(-1) yr(-1) were compared with inorganic N and zero-N controls using a randomized complete block design. We measured yield and N uptake for each forage harvest, plant tissue metals at selected harvests, soil nitrate each fall, diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extractable metals after five years of applications, and soil pH, available P, and organic C after seven years. Forage yields increased with biosolids rate. Apparent nitrogen recovery (ANR) for biosolids averaged 18% in 1993 (Year 1), 35% in 1994, and 46% in 1999. The ANR for inorganic N averaged 62% from 1994-1999. Residual soil nitrate was less than 25 kg ha(-1) for all treatments through 1995, but increased beginning in 1996 for the high biosolids rate. Biosolids increased soil organic C levels by 2 to 5 g kg(-1) and Bray-1 P levels by 300 to 600 mg kg(-1) (0-15 cm depth). Plant tissue Zn increased from 24 to 66 mg kg(-1) at the highest application rate. Nearly all of the DTPA-extractable metals remained in the 0- to 8-cm soil depth.