Effects of soil amendments at a heavy loading rate associated with cover crops as green manures on the leaching of nutrients and heavy metals from a calcareous soil.J Environ Sci Health B. 2003 Nov; 38(6):865-81.JE
The potential risk of groundwater contamination by the excessive leaching of N, P and heavy metals from soils amended at heavy loading rates of biosolids, coal ash, N-viro soil (1:1 mixture of coal ash and biosolids), yard waste compost and co-compost (3:7 mixture of biosolids to yard wastes), and by soil incorporation of green manures of sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) and sorghum sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor x S. bicolor var. sudanense) was studied by collecting and analyzing leachates from pots of Krome very gravelly loam soil subjected to these treatments. The control consisted of Krome soil without any amendment. The loading rate was 205 g pot(-1) for each amendment (equivalent to 50 t ha(-1) of the dry weight), and the amounts of the cover crops incorporated into the soil in the pot were those that had been grown in it. A subtropical vegetable crop, okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.), was grown after the soil amendments or cover crops had been incorporated into the soil. The results showed that the concentration of NO3-N in leachate from biosolids was significantly higher than in leachate from other treatments. The levels of heavy metals found in the leachates from all amended soils were so low, as to suggest these amendments may be used without risk of leaching dangerous amounts of these toxic elements. Nevertheless the level of heavy metals in leachate from coal ash amended soil was substantially greater than in leachates from the other treatments. The leguminous cover crop, sunn hemp, returned into the soil, increased the leachate NO3-N and inorganic P concentration significantly compared with the non-legume, sorghum sudangrass. The results suggest that at heavy loading rates of soil amendments, leaching of NO3- could be a significant concern by application of biosolids. Leaching of inorganic P can be increased significantly by both co-compost and biosolids, but decreased by coal ash and N-viro soil by virtue of improved adsorption. The leguminous cover crop, sunn hemp, when incorporated into the soil, can cause the concentration of NO3-N to increase by about 7 fold, and that of inorganic P by about 23% over the non-legume. Regarding the metals, biosolids, N-viro soil and coal ash significantly increased Ca and Mg concentrations in leachates. Copper concentration in leachate was increased by application of biosolids, while Fe concentration in leachates was increased by biosolids, coal ash and co-compost. The concentrations of Zn, Mo and Co in leachate were increased by application of coal ash. The concentrations of heavy metals in leachates were very low and unlikely to be harmful, although they were increased significantly by coal ash application.