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Agronomy Journal Abstract - BIOFUELS

Municipal Biosolids as an Alternative Nutrient Source for Bioenergy Crops: I. Elephantgrass Biomass Production and Soil Responses


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 102 No. 4, p. 1308-1313
    Received: Mar 11, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): lesollen@ufl.edu
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  1. Miguel S. Castilloa,
  2. Lynn E. Sollenberger *a,
  3. João M.B. Vendraminib,
  4. Kenneth R. Woodarda,
  5. George A. O'Connorc,
  6. Yoana C. Newmana,
  7. Maria L. Silveirab and
  8. Jerry B. Sartainc
  1. a Agronomy Dep., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-0500
    b Range Cattle Research and Education Center, Ona, FL 33865
    c Soil and Water Science Dep., Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611


High-yielding bioenergy crops remove large quantities of soil nutrients. Nutrients must be replenished in a manner that minimizes production costs and negative environmental impact. Class A municipal biosolids (MBS) were evaluated as an alternative nutrient source to inorganic fertilizer for ‘Merkeron’ and Chinese Cross elephantgrasses (Pennisetum purpureum Schum.) in a 2-yr field experiment in Florida. Elephantgrass plots received 0, 33, 67, or 100% of total N applied (350 kg ha−1 yr−1) from MBS, with the remainder from NH4NO3 Dry matter (DM) yield, tissue N and P concentrations and removal, and soil C and P concentrations were assessed. Elephantgrass yield decreased linearly from 24.2 to 20.1 (Merkeron) and 24.3 to 16.9 Mg ha−1 (Chinese Cross) as the percentage of N supplied by MBS increased from 0 to 100. Nitrogen removal decreased from 208 to 127 kg ha−1 yr−1 over the same range of N from MBS. Phosphorus removal ranged from 28 to 43 kg ha−1 yr−1, but the effect of N source was not consistent. There was no effect of percentage of N from MBS treatment on soil responses including water-extractable (WEP), Mehlich-1, or total P, nor was there an effect on total C concentration in the Ap horizon. Replacing 33% of N from inorganic fertilizer with N from MBS reduced elephantgrass biomass production 0 to 11%, so there is potential benefit to including MBS in a fertilization program for bioenergy crops, even in situations where MBS are limited to P-based application rates.

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Copyright © 2010. American Society of AgronomyCopyright © 2010 by the American Society of Agronomy