Plant Nutrient Availability from Mixtures of Fly Ashes and Biosolids
- Arnold W. Schumann and
- Malcolm E. Sumner *
Nutrient imbalances, both deficiencies and excesses, are one reason for the poor acceptance of waste materials as fertilizer substitutes. Two greenhouse experiments were established using 24 different fly ashes with sewage sludge and poultry manure to estimate nutrient availability and imbalances to maize (Zea mays L.). The maximum maize growth attained with fly ash amendment of 80 Mg ha−1 was significantly less (50%) than a fertilized control treatment. The additional growth improvements obtained from mixtures with sewage sludge or poultry manure ranged from 30 to 49% and 30 to 71%, respectively. Organic materials applied alone achieved only 54 and 62% of the maximum potential, while growth on poultry manure mixtures was up to 94% of the best performing fertilized treatment. Results of foliage and soil analyses suggest that P and K were the main nutrient deficiencies, while B phytotoxicity and an imbalance in the K/Ca/Mg ratio also were likely causes of plant growth reduction. Fly ashes did not contribute significant P or K to correct soil and plant deficiencies, but more often exacerbated the imbalances by precipitation or adsorption of soil P. Sewage sludge mixed at 26% and poultry manure at 13% (DM) with fly ash had negligible effect on availability of phytotoxic fly ash B, but were good sources of P (both) and (poultry manure). Good agreement between plant nutrition in pot experiments and previous laboratory extraction studies implies that chemical analysis, efficient formulation and optimized application rates may overcome nutrient limitations for use of wastes as fertilizer substitutes.
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