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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Nitrogen Fertilizer Equivalency of Sewage Biosolids Applied to Dryland Winter Wheat


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 29 No. 4, p. 1345-1351
    Received: Oct 27, 1999

    * Corresponding author(s): kbarbari@agsci.colostate.edu
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  1. K. A. Barbarick * and
  2. J. A. Ippolito
  1. Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO 80523.



Determining the N fertilizer equivalency or mineralization rates associated with continuous application of biosolids are paramount in estimating “agronomic rates” for various crops. We used 6 yr of field-study data from sewage biosolids application to dryland hard-red winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L., ‘TAM107’) to estimate the N fertilizer equivalency and mineralization rates of Littleton and Englewood (L/E) biosolids. We made three L/E biosolids and urea applications to two sites (Weld loam soil) using a dryland winter wheat summer-fallow management system. Biosolids rates were 0, 2.2, 4.4, 6.6, 8.8, and 11 dry Mg ha−1 while N fertilizer rates were 22, 44, 66, 88, and 110 kg N ha−1; we replicated all treatments four times. Using N uptake data, we found application of 1 dry Mg of L/E biosolids before each planting delivered an equivalent of about 8.2 kg N fertilizer. By contrast, estimates ranged from 6.2 to 6.7 kg fertilizer N Mg−1 L/E biosolids using the USEPA plant-available N calculations. We also calculated, from our field-study results and USEPA estimations, first-year mineralization rate ranges of 25 to 32%. In a companion greenhouse study, we found that a single application of biosolids provided an N response for only two wheat croppings. These approximations should help managers determine the “agronomic rate” for continuous biosolids additions to dryland winter wheat.

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