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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Effectiveness of Coal Combustion By-Products in Controlling Phosphorus Export from Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 4, p. 1239-1244
    Received: June 11, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): ws1@psu.edu
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  1. William L. Stout *,
  2. Andrew N. Sharpley and
  3. Jennifer Landa
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, The Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA 16802.



Phosphorus (P) export from high P soils is a major cause of eutrophication in fresh waters. Recent work has shown that the solubility of P in high P soils can be reduced with coal combustion by-products (CCBs), decreasing the potential for dissolved phosphorus (DP) export from these soils. However, the effect of such treatments on plant-available P and P export has not been quantified. We measured P uptake by canola (Brassica napus L.) from three high P (130–370 mg kg−1 Mehlich-3 P) soils treated with two CCBs, fluidized bed combustion flyash (FBC), flue gas desulfurization (FGD) CaSO4 anhydride, and agricultural gypsum (GYP). We measured DP, particulate phosphorus (PP), and total phosphorus (TP) concentrations in runoff from grassed and bare soils treated with these materials and subjected to simulated runoff. Phosphorus, As, Cd, and Pb uptake by canola were unaffected by CCB treatment, and dry-matter yields were unrelated to treatment. On grassed soils, FBC, FGD, and GYP reduced DP concentration in runoff by 20, 43, and 33%, respectively, but did not affect As, Cd, or Pb concentrations in runoff. Also on grassed soils, the high application rate of FGD reduced TP in runoff by 35%. On bare soils where erosion of PP controlled P loss, CCBs and GYP had no effect on DP concentration in runoff. Application of CCBs to high P soils in zones of high surface runoff potential, where there is little erosion, has the potential to reduce P export without affecting crop production.

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