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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Pulp Sludge as a Component in Manufactured Topsoil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 2, p. 387-397
    Received: May 19, 1998

    * Corresponding author(s): ivanjf@maine.edu
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  1. Andrew F. Carpenter and
  2. Ivan J. Fernandez *
  1. P .O. Box 361, Belfast, ME 04915.
    D ep. of Applied Ecology and Environmental Science, 5722 Deering Hall, Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5722.



The primary objective of this study was to evaluate the use of uncomposted, de-watered pulp sludge as the organic matter component in a manufactured topsoil. Seven manufactured topsoils, containing 5.1, 8.8, 9.6, 10.9, or 13.8% pulp sludge and 0, 8.4, or 20.7% flume grit on a dry weight basis, were applied to an abandoned gravel pit. Manufactured topsoils and a control topsoil were evaluated for (i) impacts on soil and soil solution chemistry and (ii) effectiveness as a growing medium for a grass conservation mix and hybrid poplars (Populus spp.). Significant N mineralization was evident in all of the manufactured topsoils within the first field season. Soil cation exchange capacity (CEC), pH and P availability were positively correlated to pulp sludge loading rate. In soil solution, the highest concentrations of solutes were detected within 2 mo of topsoil placement and were dominated by NO3-N and Ca. Cumulative grass yields from the 15 mo following topsoil placement were greater than those in the control topsoil and ranged from 3.9 to 7.3 Mg ha−1 in the manufactured topsoils. Tree height, diameter growth, and foliar nutrient concentrations responded positively to the manufactured topsoils. Results from this study indicate that topsoils manufactured with pulp sludge as the organic matter component can be an environmentally sound alternative to natural topsoil for the reclamation of sites on which existing conditions necessitate importing topsoil for revegetation.

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