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Agronomy Journal Abstract - Agronomy, Soils & Environmental Quality

Ecosystem Biomass, Carbon, and Nitrogen Five Years after Restoration with Municipal Solid Waste


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 104 No. 5, p. 1305-1311
    Received: Oct 25, 2011

    * Corresponding author(s): Dexter.Watts@ars.usda.gov
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  1. D. B. Watts *a,
  2. F. J. Arriagaa,
  3. H. A. Torberta,
  4. D. L. Gebhartb and
  5. R. R. Busbyb
  1. a USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab., 411 S. Donahue Dr., Auburn, AL 36832
    b U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Lab., P.O. Box 9005, Champaign, IL 61826


Escalating municipal solid waste generation coupled with decreasing landfill space needed for disposal has increased the pressure on military installations to evaluate novel approaches to handle this waste. One approach to alleviating the amount of municipal solid waste being landfilled is the use of a new garbage-processing technology that sterilizes and separates waste into inorganic and organic components. Thus, a study was initiated to evaluate the effectiveness of using the organic component (Fluff) as a soil amendment for establishing native prairie grasses on disturbed U.S. Army training land. The Fluff material was incorporated (10–20 cm) into a highly degraded sandy loam soil located in a borrow pit at Fort Benning Military Reservation, GA, in 2003. The Fluff was applied at rates of 0, 18, 36, 72, and 143 Mg ha−1 and seeded with native prairie grasses to assess its effect on aboveground and belowground biomass production and C and N cycling after 5 yr. An unseeded control (no Fluff) treatment was also evaluated as a comparison of natural recovery. After 5 yr, revegetation resulting from natural recovery in the unseeded control was sparse. However, Fluff addition improved native grass establishment, with greater biomass production being observed with increasing rates. Fluff addition also decreased soil bulk density and increased soil C and N concentrations. These results show that Fluff can be effectively used in land rehabilitation and revegetation practices as well as to improve C and N cycling of highly degraded soils for periods exceeding 5 yr after application.

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