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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Solubility of Phosphorus and Heavy Metals in Potting Media Amended with Yard Waste–Biosolids Compost


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 1, p. 373-379
    Received: Feb 26, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): zhe@mail.ifas.ufl.edu
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  1. M. K. Zhanga,
  2. Z. L. He *ab,
  3. P. J. Stoffellab,
  4. D. V. Calvertb,
  5. X. E. Yanga,
  6. Y. P. Xiaa and
  7. S. B. Wilsonb
  1. a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Huajiachi Campus, Hangzhou 310029, China
    b University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Indian River Research and Education Center, Fort Pierce, FL 34945-3138


The potential risk of surface and ground water contamination by phosphorus (P) and heavy metals leached from compost-based containerized media has become an environmental concern. Solubility and fractionation of P and heavy metals were evaluated in media containing 0, 25, 50, 75, or 100% compost derived from biosolids and yard trimmings for potential impacts on the environment. As compost proportion in peat-based media increased from 0 to 100%, concentrations of total P, Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, Zn, and Mn in the media increased whereas concentrations of total Co and Cr decreased. Except for Cu, all heavy metals in the water-soluble fraction decreased with increasing compost proportion in the media, because of higher Fe, Al, and Ca concentrations and pH values of the composts than the peat. When the media pH is controlled and maintained at normal range of plant growth (5.5–6.5), leaching of the heavy metals is minimal. Incorporation of compost to the peat-based media also decreased the proportion of total P that was water-soluble. However, concentrations of bioavailable inorganic phosphorus (NaHCO3–IP), readily mineralizable organic phosphorus (NaHCO3–OP), potentially bioavailable inorganic phosphorus (NaOH-IP), and potentially bioavailable organic phosphorus (NaOH-OP) were still higher in the media amended with compost because of higher total P concentration in the compost. Further study is needed to verify if less or no topdressing of chemical P fertilizer should be applied to the compost-amended media to minimize P effect on the environment when compost-amended potting media are used for nursery or greenhouse crop production systems.

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