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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Biotechnology By-Products as Sources of Nitrogen for Plants


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 24 No. 5, p. 986-992
    Received: Aug 10, 1994

    * Corresponding author(s): malit@iastate.edu
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  1. B. Zhu,
  2. M. A. Tabatabai * and
  3. S. J. Henning
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA 50011.



Recent developments in the biotechnology industries have resulted in production of large quantities of by-products with potential uses as soil amendments and as sources of nutrients for plant growth and development. Many of these by-products contain significant concentrations of organic and inorganic N that can be used by plants. This study evaluated, under greenhouse conditions, seven by-products produced by four biotechnology industries in Iowa for their N-supplying potentials to plants, and the results were compared with a conventional N fertilizer, urea-ammonium nitrate (UAN). Corn (Zea mays L.) was grown on three Iowa surface soils treated at eight rates of N ranging from 0 to 500 mg of total N pot−1 (1 kg of soil) and harvested after 34 d. Results showed that both dry matter and N yield increased with increasing the rate of N in the by-products applied to soil. Dry matter and N yield responses were similar among the three soils, but differed greatly among the by-products studied. The by-products FSL and FSG were superior N sources. Significant increases in dry matter and N yields were obtained by application of SMB, SS, Mycel, and HSOM. Among the seven by-products studied, PC was a poor N source for corn. The by-product HSOM was very acidic, and FSL and FSG contained high concentrations of NH+4. Addition of these by-products to soils decreased the soil pH with increasing application rate. Results showed that some biotechnology by-products are potential sources of N for plants and are useful as soil amendments.

Journal Paper no. J-15967 of the Iowa Agric. and Home Econ. Exp. Stn., Ames. Projects 2710, 3022, and 3047. This work was partly supported by the Biotechnology By-products Consortium of Iowa.

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