Biotechnology By-Products as Sources of Nitrogen for Plants
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.
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