Biosolids applications to tall fescue have long-term influence on soil nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorus.J Environ Qual 2013 Mar-Apr; 42(2):516-22JE
Repeated applications of biosolids provide long-term benefits by increasing soil organic matter and N supply but can cause excess accumulation of P. Our objective was to determine the residual effects of repeated surface applications of biosolids on N availability and fate, tall fescue ( Schreb.) response, soil C, and P. A field experiment was started in 1993 to compare two biosolids products, each applied at three rates (6.7, 13.4, and 20.1 Mg ha yr), with synthetic N fertilizer (0 and 403 kg N ha yr as ammonium nitrate). Treatments were surface applied for 10 yr, followed by a 9-yr residual period where all plots received a reduced rate of inorganic N (202 kg N ha yr). Annual measurements included forage yield, N uptake, and soil nitrate N. Soil samples collected in 2002 and 2011 were analyzed for total C and N and Bray-1 P. Cumulative apparent N recoveries in harvested grass (1993-2010) were 51% for biosolids N and 72% for ammonium nitrate. Net fall soil nitrate N summed for the period 1993-2002 ranged from <1 to 3% of N applied. The N applied that was accounted for in forage and soil averaged 74% for biosolids and 73% for ammonium nitrate. Soil C increased in the biosolids treatments, and the increase was equivalent to 27% of biosolids C. Bray-1 P remained at excessive levels (338-629 mg P kg soil) 9 yr after the last biosolids application.