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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 98 No. 4, p. 1073-1080
     
    Received: Jan 3, 2006
    Published: July, 2006


    * Corresponding author(s): ryan.r.busby@erdc.usace.army.mil
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doi:10.2134/agronj2006.0003

Effects of an Uncomposted Municipal Waste Processing By-Product on Prairie Grass Establishment

  1. Ryan R. Busby *a,
  2. Dick L. Gebharta and
  3. H. Allen Torbertb
  1. a U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Lab., P.O. Box 9005, Champaign, IL 61826
    b USDA–ARS, National Soil Dynamics Lab., 411 S. Donahue Dr., Auburn, AL 36832

Abstract

A garbage processing technology has been developed that sterilizes and separates inorganic and organic components of municipal solid waste. A study was initiated to evaluate the uncomposted organic by-product of this process as a soil amendment for establishing native prairie grasses on disturbed Army training lands. The waste was incorporated into sandy soils at Fort Benning Military Reservation on two sites: a moderately degraded and a highly degraded soil. The waste material was applied at rates of 0, 17.9, 35.8, 71.6, and 143 Mg ha−1 and seeded with native prairie grasses to assess its effects on vegetation for two growing seasons, with an additional unseeded control treatment for comparison to natural recovery. The addition of uncomposted waste increased percent composition and basal cover of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) at both sites and percent composition of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) at one site. Indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans (L.) Nash] was negatively affected by the addition of the waste material at both sites. Biomass in the 143 Mg ha−1 treatment increased 4180% compared to the seeded control at the highly degraded site. Plant uptake of P and Na increased at both sites and an apparent Fe toxicity problem was alleviated at the highly disturbed site with increasing application rates. Because perennial grass establishment improved so dramatically with increasing application rates, land application of this uncomposted waste material could be considered a viable and beneficial alternative to current waste management practices for degraded Army lands.

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