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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Field Study: Influence of Fly Ash on Leachate Composition in an Excessively Drained Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 26 No. 3, p. 714-723
    Received: May 1, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): billyg@strauss.udel.edu
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  1. W. J. Gangloff *,
  2. M. Ghodrati,
  3. J. T. Sims * and
  4. B. L. Vasilas
  1. Dep. of Plant and Soil Sciences, Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303;
    Dep. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.



Alternatives to landfilling fly ash may be to use it as a soil amendment since it is fine textured and could alter soil texture and thus improve water retention. However, fly ash contains elevated B, soluble salts, and trace element concentrations that could adversely affect plant and soil quality. Objectives were to characterize leaching of soluble salts, plant nutrients, and trace elements in a sandy soil amended with a high rate of fly ash (∼662 Mg ha−1). We established field plots in an Evesboro loamy sand using typical agricultural equipment. Lysimeters were installed to a depth of 120 cm and used to collect leachate over a 9 mo period. We also used microplots (1.0 by 1.0 m) and similar ash rates to characterize leaching under controlled conditions. Lysimeters were installed at four depths in each microplot (15, 30, 60, and 120 cm) and water applied with a rainfall simulator. Boron and soluble salts were leached from the rooting zone after ∼38 cm of natural rainfall or 42 cm of irrigation. Calcium and S were the dominant plant macronutrients in leachates while Cu, Mn, and Zn were the only detectable micronutrients. Peak concentrations of these elements were detected after ∼50 cm of rainfall or irrigation and decreased to below or near initial concentrations by the conclusion of the study. Nickel was the only detectable trace element in leachates, however, concentrations were variable and <0.15 mg L−1. Results suggest that if fly ash incorporation is properly timed to allow for natural leaching, adverse effects will be minimal.

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